GLASS: What are you working on?
David Schnuckel: I’m currently expanding upon a body of work I started about two years ago comprised mostly of found and altered materials with an effort to reinterpret the traditional practice of painted portraiture. My interest in using glass over the past several years had always been in drawing from its rich history in pictorial application and this current body of work still takes root in that. However, my current efforts are a dramatic deviation from previous work in that I’ve put blown-glass form to the side, questioning how I can use imagery and the written word as abstracted, visual components within a sculptural context as opposed to narrative surface ornamentation. Also, without access to the kind of glass facilities I rely on to compose the previous work I’ve been using the idea of “limitation” to my advantage by translating the ideas and interests that motivated the blown work into new methods of creative introspection.
Due to a childhood admiration of comic books, I’ve always been drawn to the idea of an average being undergoing some sort of unforeseen and scientifically fictional mishap, becoming, then, something far more superior than that character had ever expected. The recent work is driven by the idea of implementing a similar kind of radical transformation by resurrecting discarded glass, paper, fabric, wood, and twine into visually loaded components of renewed purpose with a variety of mark-making tools including ink, pencil, stitching, and enamels. I love the idea of uncovering the extraordinary potential of these once “useless” items mostly due to the fact that I can humanly relate to that aspiration. I’m also thinking about a variety of new considerations within this work: the ability to both literally and figuratively layer information due to the transparency of glass, the role a flat image has in space, the relationship between materials, the quality of the marks being made, and the significance of even removing them and what that implies in some accounts.
By adapting the idea of portraiture as a practice of rendering one’s likeness pictorially, the content of the current work is driven by depicting observations of my own character flaws and shortcomings through abstracted narratives involving pop-based iconography and text. I’m still drawn to issues regarding the human response to personal conflict and what I’ve been recently working on is perhaps my most genuine effort to explore this attraction to the ironic beauty within struggle, humility, and failure thus far. Whether we like it or not, these discomforting factors allow us to continually redefine ourselves and, therefore, serve as highly transformative opportunities. Personal difficulty is a thing that seems hard for people to embrace, let alone acknowledge. For me, it’s a goldmine of conceptual material to work with as an artist…
GLASS: What artwork have you seen recently that inspired you and got you thinking about your own work?
David: I’ve been working hard over the past couple of years to undo everything that has become standard in my studio practice…and I think the current work reflects that. I’m an individual that habitually thrives on order, balance, strategy, and logic that, in turn, has affected my aesthetic and conceptual sensibility. As a result, I’ve been really adamant about paying attention to artists that incorporate a vigorously poignant use of imagery, text, and/or material sensibility to help aid in reinventing myself…
I’ve always been drawn to the vulnerable and expressive narratives composed by British artist Grayson Perry upon the surfaces of his ceramic vessels…who also has been translating these ideas into complicated, labor intensive tapestries these days, too. In speaking about textiles, Darrel Morris is an artist who uses needle-work to compose pictorial storyboards of compelling adaptations of personal experiences on cloth that are ambiguous enough to allow anybody to relate to. I also look to Gwen Hedley who shares my interest in transforming the mundane into the meaningful by finding discarded things and uses fabric and paper along with them to assemble poetic, personal works that also incorporate stitched imagery and written word.
Along the lines of making with found objects, I also draw inspiration from John Drury and Robbie Miller (as the CUD collaborative team) who harvest an outsider’s approach to self-expression by resurrecting discarded glass and painting on it with a tenacious and uninhibited vitality. Dana Zámečniková’s sculptural take on glass and imagery is also a contributing factor towards my current work: building up layers of pictorial information between laminated slabs of float glass and, in some pieces, drawing from the idea of having physical elements from within a fictitious space penetrate into real space. I also love the ambiguous, quirky exchange between the delightfully weird painted images of Friese Undine and the titles of the work (which sometimes find their way cleverly within the piece itself). It reminds me of the grim, satirical spirit of some of the interplay between title and image as seen in Francisco De Goya’s “Disasters of War” series of prints…really graphic etchings representing his brokenness by national tragedy during the French infiltration of Spain in the early 19th century. Tony Fitzpatrick is another artist working somewhat “flat” in that he creates open-ended biographical collages of found objects around his native Chicago area that relate to my interest of using seemingly simple components to speak towards a narratively complicated whole.
There are many individuals that I could cite as inspirational sources of reference, but I know that space is limited. I also haven’t addressed creative phenomena that have influenced my thinking about my work: the significance of lowbrow, immediate modes of self-expression such as bathroom-stall art and tagging; the quick wit and guerilla visual tactics of various methods of street art; the untrained and genuine touch of outsider art. Even though my primary medium as an artist is within glass, there is a lot of work outside of the contemporary glass and craft field at large that has been within my consideration…
GLASS: Where is it possible to see your work on exhibit?
David: At the moment I have new work showing at the Robert Madsen Gallery in Seattle, Washington. The exhibition is called “Parenthetical Admission (Things Eventually Recognized After the Fact…)” and it’s up until Friday, January 6th, 2012. I also have a Website at davidschnuckel.com that hosts more images of work and links to other sites that feature my writing about it.