Friday, August 5, 2011

Gathering, Continued: the Art of Bill Skrips

On the heels of ruminating about scraps and detritus, it only seems apropos that we take a few moments to consider the sculpture and found art of Bill Skrips. Many-layered, frequently ominous-if-not-doomed, his pieces carry titles like "Mirror of Skin" and "Devil Got a Letter." 

{Perhaps he listens to a little Furnace Room Lullaby while creating? Possibly some Tom Waits.}

According to his web site, he “grew up in a house filled with stuff, my dad being a pack rat. It always frustrated me to think that he was just letting all this stuff sit, whereas I had plenty of imagined uses for it—not that he was willing to part with anything…To this day, I don’t see what others would call a mess—my studio is just a wonderful tumble of raw materials.” 

He continues, “I think of the studio as a part of my head—literally, a creative space” – and this is the key to the appeal of artists’ studios, right? I’m not assuming that everyone cares about such things, but a part of me thrills to this, to see these spaces that intermingle images taped to the walls, intended to serve as visual spark plugs, to catch at some interesting twist in the mind; to see materials laying around before they have been made sense of – I know this is important, but I don’t know how. To see a studio at times is to see the precursor to art, to see just a little bit of the workings of that artist’s mind: just *what* is being explored with these materials, what questions are asked, again and again?

It should be said that I’m not talking about artists in some obnoxious, rarefied way: this calls to mind when I used to read poetry regularly and attend readings frequently. The gathering was agonizingly slow to start and a fellow attendee – and would-be poet – tossed up her hands and declared helplessly, “Poets don’t OWN watches~~!” People murmured and chuckled and I refrained from glaring at her. As far as I could tell, poets are not woodland sprites and hopefully they have bank accounts and can drive cars; and if they cannot – or do not care to – observe the details of this world, they will be piss-poor writers indeed. But so, to descend from the soapbox, if you happened to read the last post, you can see why Skrip’s process would especially hold appeal for me.

I had fun snooping about his booth at the Ann Arbor Art Fair a few weeks ago, gathering little scraps of information about him. He was the first artist who didn't momentarily cringe when I asked if I could take his photo, saying instead, in mock horror, "Oh me? Oh NO, not a PICTURE!" before he stood next to ones of his digger sculptures, which was my first favorite. When I swept through later on, other ones caught my eye and demanded more attention -- which brings us back to the notion of collecting: there's always something more appealing, always more to discover. 

The two digger figures both appear apprehensive; which is certainly sensible, what with being surrounded by rusted metal and immediately next to a large coffin-shaped box...The idea of digging appears repeatedly through his work. Definitely a nice, rich theme to explore, with the uncovering -- or covering up -- of layers. Naturally those layers can serve as stand-ins for any number of things: knowledge (/self-awareness), time (/history/mortality)...or, in a more literal sense, dirt, which he blogs about here.

Skrips also used a lot of wheels in his pieces, until he realized he automatically began to wonder where he would put the next wheel in any given piece. So it would seem he is on temporary wheel hiatus.
....But not so fast! Would you dare to take this figure's wheel from him?
I thought not.
Blurry, but next favorite.

1 comment:

  1. I know a few woodland sprites, but they are not nearly as delicate (or cute), as those depicted in your garden variety fairy tale.