Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Orchid interviews Scott Schuldt

Scott Schuldt in his canoe.
Hello Everyone.  My name is Orchid and I am the guest blogger today on Art Talk.  I recently had a nice visit with Scott Schuldt, a Seattle based artist working in a variety of media including, but not limited to, beadwork, mapmaking and video.

Orchid: "Hello, Scott.  It is a pleasure to meet you.  Thank you for taking the time to share some of your thoughts with us and allow us a glimpse into your world.

So, let's begin.
Will you tell the audience what it is you do?"

Scott: "It turns out that I am a self-taught interdisciplinary artist.  It took me a few years to figure out that is what I do.  So, I bring a lot of content-science, history, politics and nature into my work."

 Orchid: "Why/how/when did this all come about?"
#1 of 3 panels; Scott Schuldt

Scott:  It's actually a rather natural thing for me to do.  I am fairly well balanced in a left brain - right brain context and I am very comfortable going to either side.  I have a degree in mechanical engineering, so my math and science skills are up to snuff enough that I can plow through data and technical papers, but being a jack-of-all-trades in my core, it would be hard (dull) for me to specialize too much.  I've learned to tap into the emotional side as well.  That is when the wild ride happens...I love the feeling of hanging on for dear life to an artwork in progress that just has a mind of it's own."
#2 of 3 panels; Scott Schuldt

Orchid: "Why beads?"

Scott: Pure chance,  I was studying native american art forms and found that the art historian's texts made more sense when I was actually making the work - I's started with NW coastal carving, and when I moved on to look at some apparel designs, I decided to sew some beads so that I would understand what the various stitches were... I actually don't get all that worked up about beads, they're kind of like paint to me."

Orchid: "Why canoes?  

#3 of 3 panels; Scott Schuldt
Scott:  "I grew up in Minnesota.  I always liked canoeing, but when I got to be 17 I started mountain climbing and did that more or less until I moved to Seattle (1985).  I'd moved out of my climbing social circle and found it not so easy to find someone that I both liked and that climbed at my level.  Instead, I bike raced for several years, built some sea kayaks, got bored with them.  Then, 3 years ago I bought a used canoe,  Got in and loved it.  Loved everything about it.  To me, there's no better view than there is when I am kneeling in my canoe.  And, more than probably any other vessel, it is the jack-of-all-trades, which is who/what I am also.  It's easy to jump in and out of, easy to carry, fairly seaworthy (but not so much as a sea kayak), great for paddling in the shallows and in tight narrow places.  You can carry some substantial stuff in one, also.  I've hauled out of the marsh, a 100+ lb truck tire and a 150 lb block of foam.  it's also a great boat to sit in and write or photograph, explore, etc.  My canoe has about 360 trips on it in the last 3 years."

'The View From the Canoe
Orchid:  "Why video?"

Scott: "Pure chance again.  I was recording my daily trips, because I was making observations on a daily basis that I thought might have some value to somebody at some time, especially with climate change.  So I started a blog, started shooting lots of photographs,  Then, I wrote my daily piece in the canoe.. and that was better than anything I'd yet written.  So, most everything is written in the canoe.  Then, I decided to podcast a couple of good pieces,,, and then it made sense to make those into slideshows.. and my friends said, "those are great, but you need some video."  So, I shoot video.  They were right, of course.  I'm also doing photography, hand-surveyed and hand-drawn maps, a series of technical engineering drawings of beaver structures, and I'm up to about 20 hand -carved functional art canoe paddles."
Installation of the paddles at
Maude Kerns Art Center
Orchid:  'Will you tell us a little about your thought process?"

Scott:  "Everything is connected.  You know, you spend most of your educational life having subjects neatly compartmentalized.  It's math only, history only, art only, science only.. Yet, the real world requires a person to know history, be able to metabolize creative endeavors, be able to forecast a budget, build things, understand a little about nature. There aren't any boundaries.  I really like finding those complexities and getting them into a piece of art.  When I'm on some art thing,,, I collect and amass images and facts.  I just keep going - following the subject wherever it is going until I have so much information that I can't help but to make and finish a piece of art."

'The Outpost'  Scott Schuldt
Orchid:  "How's this art life working for you?"

Scott:  "I'm happy, very happy.  I quit my engineering career in 2005 because the company I worked for decided to maximize profits by making a crap product.  The stress of that was killing me.  I got beaten up pretty bad trying to save their knuckleheaded asses.  I've had great support from my wife and we've grown closer since.  I'm not a good salesman, so I don't sell much.  Most of my sales have been to public art collections, Seattle and 4Culture, and the Museum of Arts and Design bought a piece,  Seattle has been a tough place to get started in. It's a lot of sales galleries, a lot of don't call us, we'll call you..  and, most art people haven't seen beadwork like mine anywhere, ever. so they don't get it until they see it in person.  Last year I did a 60 piece solo show - they promoted my photographs mostly, until they saw the beadwork in person.  It was great fun.  I saw some people crying while looking at the beadwork... it doesn't get better than that."
Anorak, 2011;
Scott Schuldt

Orchid:  "Where do you see this going?"

Scott:  I don't work that way.  Someone, who I hadn't seen in 5 or 6 years, was interested in my transition from engineer to artist and asked how that came about.  I replied, "I don't know, I just go where I end up."  ..He caught it.. that line came right out of my subconscious and, of course, what I said is backwards.  Most people end up wher they are going.  So, I had no idea where the canoeing thing was going, except I trusted that it would go someplace,, and I knew I would be okay to go there.  I finally have enough stuff that it looks like I knew what I was doing.  I can't tell you how much trouble I had when I was doing aptitude tests when I was 15 - the teachers just kept harping about 'having a plan' and I just couldn't figure out why anyone would want to live their life following a plan.  I just do the best that I can at whatever I am doing.  It does make it hard for me towrite proposals and grants - I have a hard time bullshitting myself.. making it look like I have a plan.  The grant process thing in art is very contradictory to the way that most artists work.  If it wasn't for the money, artist just wouldn't tolerate that nonsense."

"Calving Season" 2006
Scott Schuldt 

Orchid: "One last question, Scott.  If you had to choose another profession, what would it be?"

Scott:  "I don't even like to think about that.  I probably would just go off of the grid instead."

View from the Canoe
Scott's website

Signal Fire Residency