Artist Statement

 

Process

It starts with parts. Objects, both found and created, can languish in my studio for long periods of time before they find a home in a sculpture. Often components are found objects I have reformed; books, plastic combs, test tubes, fire extinguishers. As I amass parts, I combine and recombine them, experimenting
until I sense a formal continuity between elements. As parts begin to make visual and conceptual sense, a narrative emerges leading to a solution. Solutions often require the fabrication of a connecting object or objects. Then there is the matter of love. As I amass parts, I am looking for a spark of faint recognition within. Early in my childhood, I recall having an emotional response to certain forms and objects. Later, as I constructed objects and arrangements with toys, this emotion returned. I think this kind of reaction is familiar to anyone who chooses to continue to create. Entirely subjective and
preverbal, it is a core response to a 'correct' arrangement. At a point, I fall in love with object I've created. This process sounds insular -and it is. Yet is important to me that the result be visually desirable.

 

Form

I am attracted to rigged contraptions, tools fashioned from the broken remains of consumer goods to serve a new purpose. I find these remains at my favorite places: garage sales, thrift stores and auctions. A good gimcrack elicits a simple wonder in me as I attempt to discern the etymology of its components and marvel
at its creator's ingenuity. This state is one I attempt to elicit in viewers of my work as they examine the implied or real functionality of the elements included. I intend all my objects to be viewed as artifacts with some enigmatic purpose. I am attracted to physical tools and see in them the power over materials. Found
objects in my sculptures are present often merely to establish a mechanical relationship within the piece, and their functional origin is plainly apparent. At other times I obscure their origin to put them to an assigned signifying purpose. I am interested in the process the viewer undergoes in distinguishing between the
found and the created.


Content

I was born in Portland Oregon, and lived there until my family moved to Jerusalem, Israel when I was five. I was placed in a Hebrew speaking kindergarten and soon became fluent in Hebrew. My father, an archeology buff and student of the Bible, took my family on many trips to see historically and archeologically important sites in Israel. From my childhood in the Middle East came the desire to make attempts to create something tangible out of the infinite now. I had the experience of the manifestly ancient: buildings, objects, whole environments.

Upon returning to the United States, my father became a pastor. He ministered to churches in several rural Oregon and Washington towns. I grew up in the church and believed what was taught me within the framework of this authority. Along with the stories of faith and redemption, I was taught millenarian and apocalyptic theology and further fantastical thinking. This engendered the idea that the kooky can become possible and created a curiosity that continues to day. Sculpture is a place where I can locate and assess core beliefs surrounding this experience. One Christmas, when I was a boy, my grandfather Floyd gave me and my brothers each a pair of stilts he had made by hand. My grandfather too, was a sculptor. He was also a geologist, a logger and speculator. Floyd was of the West and carried the West’s spirit of limitless expansion. My experience with the stilts then was notable because of a sensation like time travel. With some practice I was able to experience the world from a vantage point unattainable to me by any other means
but through time. My growing body would someday obtain the height that these stilts afforded me in an instant. As an adult artist, I have abstracted beyond this memory and now use representations of the stilt to signify other locations of perspectival shift.

As a whole my work attempts to shift perspective and to put the unseeable into a physical form. Recent pieces refer topics such as to genetic engineering, the origins of human sentience, and the practice of teaching. Through sculpture I comment on the  ongoing technological exteriorization of mind. I filter bigger topics through my own vocabulary of objects. To some degree, all issues discussed in my work are expressed through bodily concerns of internality/externality. Often this manifests through the appearance of those isolated fragments of the body that function as conduits of consumption or expression of material or information. For me, sculpture is an apt expression for these impulses. In a time preoccupied with filtering sense through a binary funnel and reliant on interface and image, sculpture remains a powerful refuge for actual felt experience, one that is limited to this space and this light and this time with this object.
 

Copyright @ Scott Mansfield 2019

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