How he makes his art: McCormack first uses a plasma cutter to cut the steel sheets in halves or fourths. He works from a photo of an industrial site like a shipyard in Norfolk, the West Point paper plant, or Walter's Feed & Seed in Windsor then brushes off the rust with the acid and is left with the image. "It makes sense to me," he says of using the materials to depict industrial scenes. Afterward, he grinds the edges of the sheets and puts a seal on top so they won't rust any further.
Why he's drawn to industrial sites: Growing up outside of New York City, McCormack says he'd catch fleeting glimpses of industrial plants in the distance. He also lived part of his life around a lot of steel plants in Bethlehem, Pa. More recently, McCormack was working on a documentary about the health of the Appomattox River and found himself around them once again. "It's just amazing when you come across them I could look at them all day."
How the FBI influenced his art: One day he was taking pictures of a chemical plant in Hopewell for the documentary, and the FBI ended up tracking him down and questioning him. "I started to realize that there was something dangerous about these places," he says. "It just became really exciting for me." Since then, McCormack says he's been stopped a number of times, and that adds to the allure for him.
What he gets out of restoration work: "It's nice to take something that's completely run-down and bring it back," he says of the steel, "and that's the idea of what we do on the houses here in Petersburg too. There's a lot of art that's involved with that kind of stuff, too; there's a lot of creativity." Carrie Nieman
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