When Art on Campus Initiative Student Program Assistant Kelly Scandone was introducing me to the Art on Campus Initiative, she introduced me to a particular piece of artwork housed in the Honors, Scholars, Fellows Building on Florida State’s campus on one of my first days working with her. This specific artwork, I soon learned, was one of her favorites – it was an image of a waffle fry, created by Scott Bell. Kelly loves her waffle fries and artworks, and I found this particular image spectacularly intriguing. I asked Kelly right away if I could reach out to Scott Bell and ask him some questions. He was pleasurable and warm to me as I emailed with him back and forth, and was happy to answer the questions I posed.
Scott graduated with his Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2012 from the University of North Florida, and proceeded to earn his Masters in Fine Art from our very own Florida State University in 2016.
MB: In your artist statement, you say that, through your work, you hope to encourage contemplation of the domestic landscape. How do you think the methods and materials you use encourages your viewers to look more intensely at the world around them?
(Find Scott’s artist statement and examples of his work at his website, www.scottbellart.com.)
SB: By painting mostly representation of domestic and nature scenes and using building construction materials to create house like structures, the act of putting them together creates a narrative. The manner in which the image and structure are connected helps the viewer contemplate the role of the modern house, its materials and where it is constructed.
I take cues from home interior advertisements of the so-called American dream life and twist it.
MB: From your 2014 to you 2016 paintings, you can see a sort of evolution, as you really start to solidify the forms and methods and images you want to provoke in the minds of your audience members. Can you explain your evolution as an artist over the past few years? What have you come to realize through your work, and through your experiences presenting your work in exhibitions? How has your practice changed over time?
SB: Graduate school had a big affect on my work during those years. I have heard a lot of people describe grad school as a presser cooker, which I think, is a great analogy. The faculty and peers are constantly pushing you to better understands what you’re trying to say and if the work is actually saying it.
I started to think outside the rectangle and outside of painting. I started thinking about real space and not just representational space. I wanted to add shifts in perspective and make to paintings more abstract and well as ask questions.
Things that I have noticed in my work are that I like a lot of color. I enjoy painting objects found in everyday life and framing them in ways that appear abstract. Growing up in Florida has had a profound effect on the way that I see the world.
I started using 3d objects in my work.
MB: What was the first piece of art you created in correlation with your mantra of “place, space, and boundaries” in the urban sphere, and what was the original thought behind it? Why have you chosen to focus on place, space, boundaries, and waste in your artwork?
SB: I started making painting of my commute to work, I think this was the first time I started to address the landscape that I was familiar with and understood. The paintings were ink on mylar and they depict snapshots of highway driving.
Why I have chosen to focus on place, space, etc. because in my eyes those are the ideas at the foundation of the suburbs movement. I was always told to make honest work and to make work about what you know. I am surprised in how much I have to say about the topic, I feel that it is a good jumping off point to talk about the contemporary world.
MB: Is there an audience favorite amongst your work, or have you experienced any memorable audience responses to your work?
SB: I feel that the audience has always responded well to the paintings “Lot” and “3”.
MB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in relation to your work?
SB: Make art about what you know and be honest. Also just keep creating and have multiple works going at one time.
MB: Do you take inspiration from any artist in particular?
SB: I would say that I get more inspiration from music than from visual artists; music helps to keep in the studio.
MB: Can you tell me a little bit about the painting hanging in the Honors, Scholars and Fellows House, Open Late?
SB: That is a painting that I made dealing with the fast food culture surrounding the suburban community. It is a representation of a frozen bag of waffle fries. I wanted to talk about the manufactured and immediate products in are lives.
MB: Have you been influenced by any professors at FSU? How have they impacted your work?
SB: I am influenced by all of the art professors at FSU especially Mark Messersmith, Lilian Garcia-Roig, Julietta Cheung, and Judy Rushin. They impacted the way I thought about contemporary art and really stressed the importance of making thoughtful, decisive, well produced work.
MB: What are you currently working on now?
SB: I am currently working on a series of sculpture paintings dealing with the effects of news media and the home.
MB: Lastly: why art? Why chose to express yourself through this medium? Why not writing, photography, videography? Why not choose to say nothing at all? Why is your work important?
SB: Well I like to make objects and the act of figuring out what to make and how to make it helps me feel creative. I use photography to help make the paintings, I’m not a great writer, and I don’t like to be on the computer. I am interested in things that I can make with my hands.
Art is a reflection of the time in which it is made; I hope that my work reflects this idea. My work helps people consider their surrounding landscape, pointing out the hidden beauty and the underlining faults.