Upon entering the second floor of Building B, a large section of the wall in the main hallway stands out, as it is almost totally covered in stamps that Gombert has painstakingly applied.
Usually, the artist himself can be found in hallway with a small cart covered in Post-it notes and rubber stamps, kneeling on the floor or standing on a ladder to carefully place some of the stamps.
The designs are black ink stamps that are arranged in geometric spheres, with stamped patterns of tendrils and shoots that connect the shapes together in a bigger, cohesive design.
But these are not the typical rubber stamp designs; some of the prints include leaping cheetahs, vintage inkwells, pretzels, skull and crossbones, pineapples, garden gnomes, Campbell soup cans and even the face of Shirley Temple.
The stamps are printed by hand, following line marks that Gombert sketched out with pencil and several protractors.
On some parts of the wall, there are simply stamped pieces of yellow Post-it Notes that represent a possible location for a pair of eyeglasses or a gingerbread man.
According to Gombert, there were some initial sketches for the shapes of the spheres. As far as forethought for the specific patterns of stamps used, he explained that it was mostly all improvisation.
Once he gets up the ladder, he picks from a group of stamps that he thought would work well in the sphere and goes from there.
At first glance, the designs appear to be mandalas or even stained glass windows, with spherical, geometric designs that are oddly hypnotic. Gombert described the pieces as having a great deal of “radial symmetry,” a geometric concept that he’s always been drawn to.
Gombert said that he is fond of designing art that includes, “mystery bonus prizes for the diligent viewer.” He’s a big fan of art that rewards the viewer for taking the time to really appreciate the piece. With some of his previous works, these bonus prizes included stickers embedded underneath layers of paint. However, Gombert said he’s straying from 3D “prizes,” and instead wants the viewer to focus on the different images that are present within the mural.
Gombert started buying the stamps on eBay, after a long interest in stamping that started five years ago. After much experience in painting and drawing, this display of intricate and patterning stamping is not surprising. Gombert said the interest stemmed from curiosity.
“That’s what artists do,” Gombert said. “They figure out how different materials work.”
Gombert recently embarked on another project by opening an online Etsy store, under the name RubberStampedPrints, with the help of his oldest daughter, Elizabeth. In the shop, he is selling prints of his stamp designs, as well as unused stamps that he has no need for.
While Gombert is not sure when the mural will be finished, he has procured approval from Bill Swann, chair of the Fine Arts Division, and Andy McCall, director of the Physical Plant, to seal the piece into the wall with an acrylic varnish.
The entire hallway of Building B was built for displaying art, like current art class projects or even senior theses projects, so the mural is sure to fit in. Gombert hopes that the work done on this mural can be used to procure future “site-specific installation work” by convincing venues that he has the necessary experience.
Gombert is embarking on this project alone and is happy to do so, as this stamp mural is just “for personal enjoyment.”