For years, Phoenix-based artist Sean T French has exhibited his futuristic sculptures at local galleries and gatherings like Burning Man.
From now on, the rest of the world will be able to take a look at his work, which often mixes history, science and mythology: he appears in a new television series called Assembly Required, which airs February 23 on the History Channel at 8 p.m. PT.
French is one of three directors featured in the show’s first episode, hosted by Tim Allen and Richard Karn, who starred in the ’90s sitcom. Home improvement, with April Wilkerson, DIY carpenter and YouTube personality. The network describes it as “a new series of contests that showcases the best and brightest builders from across the country.”
French says he heard about the show last spring after a representative from the cast saw his Instagram page and asked to participate. He learned he was picked in August, but had to keep the news a secret until just a few days ago.
“It’s like all of this happened at a time when people really couldn’t go out and do anything because of the pandemic,” French said. “It’s really weird that I got to work in my studio and the whole world can be my audience.”
The 10-episode series shows creators in their home workshops, where they’re tasked with taking on challenges that test a wide range of technical skills and problem-solving abilities. For French, it’s the three-car garage at his home in Peoria, which he turned into an art studio.
French competes with Alex Coplo, a self-taught architectural model maker, and Jesse Jennings, whose experience includes building and repairing homes and cars. Of course, they can’t reveal the outcome until the episode airs.
As the solitary sculptor of the first episode, French will draw on his experience working with aluminum, brass, copper and steel to create works of art that often refer to female power and incorporate the techniques used in the manufacture of medieval bulletproof vests.
His work was part of the Burning Man Multiverse in 2020, a virtual experience presented by the Burning Man community who decided not to meet in Black Rock City, Nevada due to the pandemic.
Nearly two decades ago, French’s wife, Christy Ward French, wore a sculptural piece he calls “monarch wings” at Burning Man, and he has shown his work at numerous regional Burning Man events in Arizona and Texas.
“I’m very active in the printmaking community and I’m happy to see that interactive art is being taken more seriously,” he says.
His sculptures have been exhibited in several local spaces, including Alwun House and Walter Where? House. More recently, French presented more than a dozen pieces as part of the “New Things” exhibition at the Icehouse.
He says he will watch the first episode of Assembly Required with some friends and neighbors. “I didn’t see how it all unfolded, so in a way, I feel like it’s going on right now.”
Each episode includes two challenges. First, the creators have 90 minutes to create something with items from an organized mystery box. Only two manufacturers move on to the second challenge.
For the second round, the creators are given another mystery box and five days to complete a new challenge that includes an unexpected twist. Then they ship their work to Allen’s studio for the final round of judging. “They spent five days in my studio in October,” French recalls. “Then I had to pack my work and send it. ”
The winner of each episode receives $ 5,000. Win or lose, French said he was happy with the experience.
“I am excited to shine a light on the Arizona arts community, and it has been a great opportunity to continue to thrive and grow. ”