RePost: An Interview Between Scott Wolniak & Hunted Projects

April 9, 2013 · Print This Article

A friend posted this interview between Steven Cox and Scott Wolniak on the ol’ FB. I thought I’d repost an excerpt here. 
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HUNTED PROJECTS presents Chicago based artist Scott Wolniak.

Scott is currently a tutor within the Visual Arts department of the University of Chicago, where his multi disciplinary practice expands upon the realms of installation, painting, sculpture and video.  With references to both destruction and humor, his past experience of being an art handler shines through with sculptural and painterly works that suggest the purposeful mishandling of materials.  This being made particularly clear through his video work The Ratio of Effort to Effect (2010), which in a tongue in cheek manner, explores the ever so common mishandling of art work, done in a manner that hints at Wolniak’s appreciation of the absurdist comedy of Steve Martin.  In all, Wolniak’s rounded practice explores the cockamamie, poking fun through the purposeful use of humble materials, whilst simultaneously rationalising conscious bad craftsmanship as a by product of expressionism.
Can you tell HUNTED PROJECTS about yourself and your creative background?
SW: I am a multidisciplinary artist based in Chicago.  I studied Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and did my MFA in Studio Art at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  After finishing my BFA in 1995 I spent five years working as a truck driving art handler, which introduced me to important social and logistical aspects of the art world.  I opened an alternative exhibition space in my garage called Suitable Gallery in ’99, which was in operation for 5 years.  It was a positive experience; we did many great shows with great artists.  My studio is now in this same finished and heated garage that used to be Suitable.  After completing my MFA in 2002, I began part time teaching at SAIC and, in 2007, began my current full time teaching appointment in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Chicago.  Teaching is a really important part of my practice and helps me to constantly reconsider my relationship to visual art.
When did your interest within the arts begin?
SW: As a kid, art was a natural form of entertainment and escape.  It was always frustrating but endlessly engaging… same as now.  I shield away from formal instruction and traditional techniques in favor of cartoons, material experiments and made-up imagery.   I used to steal techniques and styles from classmates in elementary school.  Some of my early influences were Shel Silverstein, B. Kliban and LeRoy Nieman.  As a teenager I was nourished by music and record cover art.  I also loved comedy, especially ridiculous, physical stuff like early Steve Martin.  I decided to go to art school because nothing else really made sense… and I liked the idea of making a life doing what I was already doing anyway.  I knew nothing of art history before I began school at SAIC.  My 1st life-changing encounter with Art was the work of the Abstract Expressionists.  I spent hours looking at DeKooning’s Excavation at the Art Institute.
                                                                                    
Can you discuss your day-to-day creative process?
SW:  My studio is in my backyard.  Convenience is really important to me because I like being able go to my studio any time, for any length of time, even if just to glance at something.  I am in my studio every day, so the work is a constant.  I have a hectic daily routine, which has required me to compartmentalize in order to sustain my practice.  Nights have always been a haven of undisturbed studio time for me.  Ideas come from everywhere.  My work typically involves combinations of everyday life and abstract systems, explored through labor-intensive processes with humble materials.  I tend to work on several things at once, shifting between conceptual projects that are primarily about planning and process-based pieces that are heavy on labor.  My labor-intensive projects are probably the most enjoyable.  I like to see things accumulate and transform over time.  I can drop into the studio for 15 minutes or 5 hours; either is productive since it is always moving toward the same end point.  As with meditation or exercise, small efforts conducted with great regularity do add up.
I listen to tons of music while working, as inspiration and background noise.  I often smoke marijuana in order to trick myself perceptually. (read more)