I think I should write this in the third person so that it seems more professional.
Zachary Fresco first began building wind-driven kinetic sculptures out of aluminum and stainless steel in 2015. Influenced by a lifelong love of science and technology, Zack creates art that uses basic mechanical engineering to describe moving three dimensional forms. "I like the challenges associated with multiple and conflicting constraints," says Zack. "A piece has to look right. It also has to be light enough to move in a gentle breeze, and at the same time, strong enough to weather a winter storm." Zack left a career as a chemist in Silicon Valley and moved to Sonoma County in 2011, with the new role of stay-at-home father. As the children became more independent, Zack had the leisure time to attempt art.
About his process, Zack is justifiably modest. “I like to have multiple projects running in parallel so that when one hits a snag I can just move right on to something else without having to pause,” Zack explains. “Then, when I inevitably come to a long, monotonous manufacturing step, my mind can wonder about until I come up with a solution.” One can’t help but notice that this strategy also allows Zack to run a very disorganized procurement department. After all, McMaster-Carr can deliver pretty much anything in just two days. Zack is also an obsessive folder of origami so if he runs out of shop work, there’s always that.
If you do happen to be faced with the challenge of talking to Zack in person, and don’t want to spend the next few hours smiling and nodding politely, you shouldn’t initiate any conversation about chemistry, or science in general. “When I was a child I always wanted to grow up to be a wizard, and practice magic,” he’ll say enthusiastically. “At some point in my adolescence I realized that magic - as I was thinking of it - was just pretend. I decided to study chemistry, just to help pass the time. Now, in my old age, I’ve come full circle. It seems to me that science is indistinguishable from magic understood, and technology is indistinguishable from magic used.” It’s usually better just to talk about the weather.
Sometimes it can be difficult to keep Zack on topic. People often ask him how long it takes to build one of these so-called works of “art.” The answer is never the same twice. “It all depends on how you do the math.” Zack will say. “If you consider everything leading up to the piece in question, well, it’s taken my whole life. Then you have to consider the many contributions my family has made to my education, training, and general sense of confidence and wellbeing, and factor in their lives as well.” Pretty soon we’re talking about the entire history of life on earth. Somehow, eventually, he circles back to say, “30 or 40 hours, depending on how much prototyping has to happen.” Phew. However, since Zack is the primary caregiver for two goats, two alpacas, two human children, a few dozen chickens, some quail, thousands of earth worms, approximately one hundred fruit trees, and probably a few other things he’s forgotten to mention, it must be pretty rare that he ever has 30 or 40 consecutive hours just to goof off in the garage.
When asked about the durability of his pieces, Zack can sometimes come across as boastful. “Here in my Santa Rosa, California, studio they stay outside year-round as a matter of principle,” declares Zack. Though it’s not exactly clear what principle that is. It could be that there’s just not enough space to bring them all inside. “I want to learn how they fail,” he claims. “This makes for some sleepless nights, as I lie in bed listing to the storm outside and imagining all my work getting ripped apart and strewn across Sonoma County.” Fortunately for him, most of them make it most of the time. When they don’t, the designs have to change. It’s hardly apparent from a distance, but the engineering group is subject to a grueling continuous improvement program.
Hey. Nice work, man. I think you did an acceptable job of staying in character.