DSG interviews: Susan Schultz

Susan Schultz, Photo- Maria Scaglione

We have immensely enjoyed exhibiting Susan Schultz’ work this past month. Aside from her incredible artistic talent, Susan is an absolute joy to work with and converse with. Here is a snippet of our most recent conversation with the wonderful Susan Schultz:

DSG: Our viewers are enthralled by your painstaking process. Can you describe this?

SS: It starts with a beach walk and collection of objects, natural and man-made. They must have washed in and out with the tide to be considered. Some objects are chosen because they are common to the place I am exploring, others chosen because they should NOT be there. Then I use the objects as models and sculpt them in porcelain. Repetitive objects like shells and bottles are pressed into plaster forms then hand modeled. The other objects are used as models and sculpted completely by hand from solid clay. They are fired in the kiln to 2232 degrees.

“New Bedford, Massachusetts” and the collection that inspired the piece

Susan Schultz working in her studio

DSG: Why porcelain?

SS: I started by using white earthenware, and glaze or paint to finish my work, but I was never happy with the results. It obscured the detail I was focusing on and was fragile. The whiteness, hardness, and reductive presence of unglazed porcelain attracted me, so I switched- adding paper pulp to give it working strength.

DSG: What is the most amazing thing you’ve ever found on the beach?

SS: I think teeth–human, artificial, fish and animal. I have a big collection of objects, so now I focus on the unusual.

DSG: Plastic Ocean-Catch is a particularly intriguing piece, how did that one come about?

Susan Schultz, next to Plastic Ocean-Catch, photo- Sandra Goroff

SS: The Plastic Ocean-Catch was based on research into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirl of currents that concentrates plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean, which is said to be the size of Texas. It involved lots of collection, then 4 solid months of making the work. For me it was a perfect marriage of science and art. I learned a lot about keeping my focus even when the work was repetitive, working towards the final goal. I think I achieved a piece that has visual beauty but a powerful message.

“Abundance, Watch Hill” by Susan Schultz. Photo-Dean Powel

DSG: We think so too! Which artists have influenced your work?

SS: I study 16th and 17th still life painters of Italy and Holland. I am currently looking at the work of Bertozzi and Cassoni, and Daniel Spoerri, both in books and in galleries during my Italian stays. I am inspired by the lives of many women artists, such as Louise Bourgeois, in creating my own studio practice and life.

DSG: What is the most important thing your work has taught you so far?

SS: -That my work IS the most important thing, aside maybe from being a parent. The next piece is the best piece, and it is waiting to happen!

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