Local sculptor creates art from ‘accidents’

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

For McDonough artist and sculptor Edward Freeland, creating a new piece often involves leaving room for a few surprises.

“A painting or sculpture never turns out the way I plan for it,” said Freeland, 39. “I’m creating a mess of stuff, and I know when I finish it, I will work on it long enough to where it will look pretty cool and unexpected.”

Local artist Edward Freeland works on a sculpture painting, a type of art incorporating broken glass and other fragments. Special photo

Freeland specializes in sculpture paintings using broken glass and fragments. Currently, examples of his artwork can be found at McDonough City Hall as well as the city’s Welcome Center.

Originally from northern California, Freeland became interested in drawing and painting around the time he was in first grade. One of his earliest influences, he said, was his father -- a civil, structural, and nuclear engineer and an artist in his own right.

“I was driven to one day be as good as him,” said Freeland. “From elementary school and up into college I mostly alternated my time between playing soccer and painting/drawing.

Freeland later shifted his focus to business marketing at San Jose State University, and pursued a career in business. He said it was then that his artistic endeavors then took a back seat.

“I did very little art for about five years and then had an epiphany about my purpose in life, while working as a trader in Chicago,” explained Freeland. “I then moved back to California and enrolled at Academy of Art in San Francisco. Soon after pursuing a fine art degree, I found myself splitting my time between sales in the credit-card industry and selling my art out of a gallery in San Francisco. Eventually I would become sidetracked with successes from my day job and get away from creating art entirely.”

Freeland moved to Georgia in November of 2013, to be closer to his family. It was around that time that his interest in art was reignited, when he met late McDonough sculptor Andy Davis.

“When I met him, I had never done any kind of sculpting before,” said Freeland. “He was self-taught, so he taught me how to be resourceful and relentless with my quest to find a solution to what I’m working on.”

Freeland began working as an artist full-time in January of 2016, his artistic influences including Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Salvador Dali. Over time, Freeland has found ways to use items not typically associated with art, such as rocks, sand, and sticks, to create his pieces.

“I like texture a lot,” he said. “I like to be able to feel the piece, more so than just looking at a two-dimensional image. I think I’m on a quest for trying to do something different from anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s a process of discovery. It’s an unorthodox combination of sculpture and painting merged with classical and untraditional media.”

Freeland also uses items such as latex paint, epoxy resin and oil paint in putting his art together. He said his craft has enabled him to take artistic “accidents” and create something out of them.

“It’s the accidents that turn out being the best ones,” he said. “It’s, like, being comfortable being uncomfortable. The more I can wrap myself around that, the better it turns out. I go into it not sure how it’s going to turn out, and by the end of it, I’m pretty happy with it.”

Freeland acknowledged that it can be difficult, at times, to stay focused on one piece. One reason for that, he said, is because his creative juices are constantly flowing.

“I have all these ideas that are constantly coming up,” said Freeland. “I have a tendency to want to have a bunch of pieces going on at one time. I can’t approach these pieces like a 9-to-5 job. I’ve got to take breaks and do other things that are creatively stimulating. If I let myself, I will overwork it. I have to constantly pull back.”

One of Freeland’s biggest fans is his girlfriend of one year, Tracey Bonetti of McDonough. Bonetti said she admires Freeland for his passion, his humility and his vision.

As an example of Freeland’s creativity, Bonetti recalled an incident from six months ago.

“The ideas that he has and the things he comes up with -- it’s amazing what he sees,” said Bonetti. “He was scavenging rocks and twigs out of my back yard, and I thought he was nuts. But it turned out to be amazing. It’s neat seeing how excited people get over seeing his art.”

Freeland added that his art has also allowed him to shine a light on another of his passions – recycling. He often uses recycled glass and other materials to create his art, not just for aesthetics but also to promote recycling.

“With the recycled glass pieces, it’s been a very exciting response,” he said. “A lot of people say they’ve never seen anything like it. That’s one of the cool things about art. It can bridge the gap between youth and adults.”

Freeland is working to set up meetings at local recycling centers to learn more about the process of recycling glass, from beginning to end. The reason, he said, is “so I can better understand how I can use my art to create more awareness for sustainability.”

For more information, visit Freeland’s artist page on Facebook.