How did you first get involved in art?
I got involved in art very early on. By age five, I began to draw pretty regularly with mostly crayons and pencils, drawing cars and trucks, sports figures, fantasy games - the usual little boy stuff. I had a crush on my 2nd grade teacher and drew her during class with a rather decidedly provocative tone (I got in lots of trouble for that one.) I kept going and was fairly precocious at art in middle school and high school, taking art each and every year before college. I had wonderful support from my teachers and family.
What is your academic history?
I studied first at a local university in the Dallas area, my hometown; I then transferred to ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA. It was a wise choice; challenging, critical, and with a world class curriculum and faculty to break you down and then help you put yourself back together with a voice. After graduating, I worked in New York City for four years and then was accepted into graduate school at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. I graduated in 2003 after earning an MFA in drawing and painting. I started the major themes of my current work in graduate school.
Where & from whom do you draw inspiration?
I have generally drawn inspiration from geologic structures: craters, landmasses, mountains, and geologic processes. I have also studied geology, geography, and picked up ideas from chemistry. Travels to volcanic and mountainous areas have given me physical and tactile evidence from which to help make my work. Artists I have admired are diverse and fairly disparate: Vermeer, Velazquez, Andy Goldsworthy, Philip Guston, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Louise Nevelson, and Alberto Burri are names that come to my mind.
Please explain your process in making a piece like Crater #70902. Do you create the imagery entirely from your imagination or do you work with any reference images?
The process for a piece like Crater #70902 is created entirely from imagination, but one should understand I’ve spent countless hours traveling to see these geologic structures in their respective entirety and have spent the same kind of diligence researching science for understanding and support. The actual creation process of Crater #70902 goes something like this: I take eight-ply museum board and archivally glue four or five layers together, creating a “geologic” layered surface of about 32 layers of paper. Afterwards, I generally lightly sketch in a structural line (in light gray wax pencil), after having done several little studies on separate small sketch paper. Once the composition is locked in, I generally move to begin eroding, blasting, sanding, and carving with power tools. Along the way, I work powdered graphite into the sculpted areas with brushes - shoeshine brushes, old or cheap artist paintbrushes, and also my fingers. I continue with this particular process, then I may erode and sand back into the piece if I deem it aesthetically necessary. My own experience with this series generally informs me when to stop.
What is your connection with the Foundry Art Centre? How did you discover it?
I was in a group show at the FAC about ten years ago. About four years ago, I was given space to have a solo show of which I was very appreciative. I then applied to this current show, Concerning the Spiritual. Each time has been a blind, juried experience.
What are you currently working on?
I am coming off of a sabbatical at the university where I teach, Northern Kentucky University. During this time I have laid down the ideas and have begun working small modular pieces that when shown together will make one large piece. The characteristics of the pieces will be in alignment with my work on canvas in the Carbon and Crust Project.
How do you connect with people through art? Why do you create art?
The connection to others is diverse and specific; some get the work others just do not - no big deal. Most viewers are somewhat seduced by the texture and then immediately want to know about the process, which I’m happy to discuss.
I could not imagine being able to go on without art making, it's just so integral to who I am. Always has been.
When you are not creating, what else do you enjoy doing?
Working on our wonderful Butterfly Roofed mid-century modern home (1958). It’s as if it appeared right out of Palm Springs! We are spending many hours refurbishing and restoring the beauty of this home and the surrounding land. Hard work but lots of fun!
Article by Jillian Schoettle.