We had the good fortune of connecting with Fahan Sky McDonagh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fahan Sky, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.
In graduate school, I read this quote by Samuel Beckett and took it to heart.
I love to experiment. I have even invented some new glass processes.
I would consider myself a risk taker in my studio practice. It’s a calculated risk because there are so many variables in glass making. I have become comfortable with not having the answer and letting the magic or failure happen. When a project goes wrong, I adjust based on what I have learned and then take another risk. I cannot go with the flow and also control the outcome completely. The more I fail, the better I am at problem solving and ultimately attaining the desired goal. Making a decision in advance of a new experience, in life or career, is at best an educated risk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work explores connection. Through my observations and experiences in nature, I better understand the interconnectedness of all things. If I had to sum up my studio practice, it is a making meditation. Through repetition, I find answers about my place in relation to the world around me and how all things work together. This has revealed a better understanding of the common ground I share with all living beings. There is a divide these days between people and each other, the environment, the animals, the plants & the planet itself. If I had a wish, it would be to sew up that gap
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots in St. Petersburg, Florida are so many. I live on a street connecting the Big Bayou and Lake Maggiore. At one end, there is a beautiful park with hiking around the lake called Boyd Hill Preserve. I take almost everyone there to start. At the other end, there is a boat launch into the Bayou which leads into the bay across from Tampa. My guest and I can launch kayaks there and meander around mangrove islands and see so many wild birds, dolphins and other wildlife. I often take friends from cold places to the beach first though, they really need to experience the powder soft, white sand on their feet and the endless gulf view at sunset. There is a spinning restaurant at the top of a hotel on St. Pete Beach that offers a really nice drink with a perfect view. Off the beach, in the downtown area we have 12 Museums! Being a glass artist affiliated with the Imagine Museum, I take everyone there to see the most amazing collection of glass art. We also have a thriving art scene, the warehouse arts district is home to many art business and all open their doors every second Saturday. It is fun to watch art making demonstrations, purchase local work and generally enjoy the scene. I have not been out much to the bars and restaurants recently with the onset of Covid but we have loads to choose from and If I have the choice, I would take any good friend for some street tacos.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is definitely going to my mom. She has been a complete supporter of my art and career as an artist as far back as I have memory. She was the parent that gave me art supplies when I was sick, had a bad day or even a holiday. She fostered an environment that allowed for dreamtime. I was able to explore and play many hours of the day growing up. My sculptural ideation comes from my intimate connection with nature that I developed as a child.