Interview: STACY JO SCOTT by Anna Vaughan
Rise Out of the Scattered Deep, February 3rd – 29th
Stacy Jo Scott is an artist working at the intersection of ceramics and digital fabrication, showcasing her latest work at Abrams Claghorn on February 3rd though 29th (reception on February 4th) You can read more about Stacy Jo Scott’s experience linked here.
Anna Vaughan, an accomplished artist in her own right and resident artist at Abrams Claghorn, took some time to sit down with our next featured artist, Stacy Jo Scott to discuss her upcoming solo show, “Rise Out of the Scattered Deep” In the following interview we learn the underlying reason for her works, and her need to create.
Anna: I’m so glad to have the chance to talk with you about your remarkable work. One thread of continuity that I have noticed throughout the artwork is an interest in spirituality or the unknown mysteries of life. Many spiritual traditions call upon the use of ritual to connect with the divine, almost like ritual is a pathway toward gently stepping toward the unknown without falling completely into the abyss. How does the act of ritual play into your work as an artist? And in what way does ritual give value or power to the art objects you create?
Stacy Jo: Your description of ritual as an anchor from which to step toward the unknown is very apt. My use of ritual is something I’m continuing to learn, but has been one of these anchors for most of my life. I feel less and less able to describe what my process might mean, or how it informs the work, but I think that’s because I’m stepping further into the ritual itself. Instead of “performing” ritual for an outside eye, I’m allowing it to be the integral part of my process that it seems it wants to be. This process is becoming more private and personal, but my hope is that the work will serve as an invitation or as solidarity for the viewer to inquire about their own process of understanding their own inner landscapes.
The objects emerge from the space that ritual creates, and thus have specific links to processes I’ve gone through in ritual. Those links imbue these objects with significant power and value in relation to what these processes have meant to me. But at the same time they are just clay, just the tools that I have available to make what I’ve seen into material form. This resonance between the world of ephemeral understanding and the the world of physical embodiment is rich with pathos and beauty to me. The human striving toward an ideal that must yet exist in matter. I think both worlds contain beauty, and the relationship between them is where many of our human dramas play out.
This resonance between the world of ephemeral understanding and the the world of physical embodiment is rich with pathos and beauty to me… I think both worlds contain beauty, and the relationship between them is where many of our human dramas play out.
Anna: That’s interesting, as artists I think we do need time to participate in the ritual act of art-making. It is a chance to be freely engaged with our own creativity without cause or result in mind. This internal process seems to be rich and fertile ground for you, I’m wondering what outer sources influence your work? Are there any particular artists/writers or art-moments that resonate with you?
Stacy Jo: I am almost constantly researching something, and that process continually loops into my life and my making practice. I’m most compelled by things that help me understand my place in the world, or some other mystery. People who navigate mystery by plotting some path through it help me understand my own path. This includes works by mystics Theresa of Ávila, Meister Ekhart, Hildegard von Bingen, and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, scientist Stephen Hawking, mathematician Edward Frenkel, theorists Siegfried Zielinski and Sadie Plant, storytellers Jorge Luis Borges and Jeanette Winterson. Objects that I am most compelled by are those that speak of direct process, the body, and materiality. I find myself continually returning to very early ceramic, metal, and textile artifacts. To me, they speak to an experience before or outside of the supposed split between the body and the mind, or between the mundane and spirit. I feel a similar resonance with works of Blinky Polermo, Kishio Suga, Agnes Martin, Pina Bausch, and William Basinski.
I’m most compelled by things that help me understand my place in the world, or some other mystery. People who navigate mystery by plotting some path through it help me understand my own path.
Anna: What a beautiful and eclectic mix of people! Thank you for gathering them together in one place for us. I was thinking about your reference to early craft/art and I completely resonate with what you said about a time before the supposed mind/body split. Given that you are so drawn to these early hand-crafted works I am curious about your use of technology and 3D printed objects. Printed objects are such a new technology full of hope, fear and wonder. What is your motivation in drawing together these aesthetics of a distant past and a waking future.
Stacy Jo: To me there is a very direct relationship between the two, the supposedly archaic and the supposedly innovative technologies. What creates a dichotomy between them is our perception of time. We have this sense that time progresses on a linear path from primitive to advanced, and that our evolving technologies reflect an advancing path of human civilizations. I prefer to think of our human technologies as existing concurrently in whatever present we exist in. They each come from deeply human impulses to understand/navigate/manipulate/build using our understanding of the universe we live in, its materials and laws. The options that we have now may be more vast than in previous generations, but in some ways they have always existed. The potential for what we are experiencing now was seeded and cultivated in earlier technologies. I see the hands of the lacemaker in those hands now assembling microcontrollers. The logic of coil building pottery follows the same logic of a 3D printer laying down filament. In none of these technologies is the hand absent. I’m not saying these things are without differentiation, or politic, but that they emerge from the same source.
I prefer to think of our human technologies as existing concurrently in whatever present we exist in.
They each come from deeply human impulses to understand / navigate / manipulate / build using our understanding of the universe we live in, its materials and laws.
Anna: I feel like this idea of a non-linear time continuum is beautifully conveyed through the formal/visual aspects of your artworks, which seem to give reverence to both the old and the new in ways that abstain from hierarchy. There are many, many more things I’d love to talk with you about and questions I have to ask but I don’t want to keep you from getting ready for your exhibition. Thank you for the thoughtful conversation, you have given me a lot to think about and I’m super excited to see your show!
Thank you Anna & Stacy Jo for your time and beautiful thoughts. We look forward to hearing more at the opening reception on February 4th.
Celebrate the opening of Stacy Jo Scott’s show, Rise Out of the Scattered Deep on Thursday February 4th at 6pm. More information about the event and more is linked here. Thank you!