Student-Artist Spotlight: Gemma Schlotthauer

Bryce Parr – 

Gemma Schlotthauer is a fourth-year University of Wisconsin-Stout student majoring in Studio Art with a concentration in contemporary sculpture.

What sparked your interest in art?

Art gives me the platform to fabricate anything I desire. In a way, surely fueling my narcissistic tendencies, I get to play as a god. I’m also bewildered by the concept of visual language and the utilization of semiotics. Art, for me, is similar to poetry, music or dance in the way that it expresses something metaphysical that transcends the nature of a standard conversation. It captures an indescribable essence that is tied down to the way is it being communicated.  


What styles or mediums do you prefer?

As a sculptor, I pretty much work with anything I can get my hands on. I’m a slave to detailed craft and usually am drawn to cheap, unconventional materials that can be manipulated in an infinite amount of ways. Right now, I’m working strictly with cardboard to create a retail pop-up shop for senior show (see pictures), and I think that being tied down to that single material is a nice limitation because it pushes me to problem solve and come up with new ways to present it.

Do you take influence from any artists or designers in particular?

My influences change a lot over time, but I’ve been recently influenced predominantly by Tom Sachs, who creates reproductions of manufactured objects out of blue collar materials like lumber and hot glue. He pushes this idea of “authenticity and transparency” being communicated through his work, which I think is really powerful. He leaves every pencil mark and imperfection on his sculptures because it leaves evidence of his process, capturing a human-made element that you can’t find on a manufactured item. I also go out of my way to try and find super obscure influences that don’t fit into standard genres of the arts. I like being a sculptor that doesn’t only look to other sculptors. I find that oppressive and constricting to my research. David Byrne, lead singer of The Talking Heads, wrote a book called “Arboretum,” which is a documentation of nonsense lists and concept maps narrating his peculiar thoughts and categorizations of things. I found it in NYC at The Strand this past summer and I regret to this day not buying it.

Are there any projects that stood out during your career at Stout?

Spring of 2016 I won the awarded $1000 scholarship for The School of Art and Design’s Fashion Without Fabric. The intensive process of that project still very much impacts my practice. I also have the feeling that the project I’m working on right now is going to be a big milestone. 

Have you done any internships or projects outside of academia? 

I continue to make work over the summers and occasionally collaborate with fellow artists to open up the possibilities of new ideas that couldn’t be discovered individually. I’m seeking an internship for this upcoming summer.

What are your plans after graduation?

Who knows, fine art is a highly competitive field, which unfortunately makes me vulnerable to failure as a mere freelance artist. However, I would like to gain industry experience as a designer for a big-name company to fund my future projects. The ideal scenario is to marry fine art with design and create my own job somewhere similar to a creative director/consultant. I could see myself doing anything from organizing fashion photoshoots, designing corporate events, creating patterns for textiles or even building public installations.

 

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