Studio Sunday: Seth Remsnyder
We’re so excited to be bringing you a Studio Sunday feature with Seth Remsnyder!
My current body of work is titled: “Signage”. These are paintings on metal pieces like signs. The paintings are non-representational works focused on color, arrangement and movement. Some are placed on sign posts and installed in the public to play off of the signage that covers our communities. The intent of this body of work is to place serious works of visual art in a public context that deals with the concept of taking notice of the world around us. Signage is intended to grab the attention. So is visual art. The difference is often the context. Why do we so often miss what we are supposed to see when we are out in the world? Is the benefit of visual art in the public space the benefit of helping us remember how to see? I propose that it is. My current work aims to play off of the concept of signage to confront the public with visual art work in the public spaces that we traverse and all too often ignore. Perhaps most important is the basic idea that works such as these hold the possibility of brightening the days of the residents of our communities.
How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?
I became interested in art when I was about 9 or so? I liked to draw well before that but my Mom stashed a little post Impressionism/Impressionism catalogue in her magazine rack and I saw a painting by Vincent van Gogh called “Stairway at Auvers” and I was blown away. I tried to paint a lot after seeing that. I think I know how to say it better now than I could have when I was younger but I looked at “Stairway at Auvers”, it was unreal, almost cartoonish in a very good way, but also, so real, so tangible, and dense that I felt like I was there with him. I never thought a picture could make me feel as strongly as that one did. I still get chills when I look at it. If you’re reading this, look it up.
We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you and what inspired your series of metal painted signs specifically?
Well, van Gogh absolutely drove me to just go after color and to not be afraid of it so I think that was very formative for my approach to a palette... Perception is such an important part of life... attentiveness to what is going on around us or passing us by, and with my current body of work I am really getting a lot of imagination material from horizons that I see. Sunsets and sunrises and the stuff of life that’s kind of all crammed underneath the skyline is what I imagine most when I’m painting the lines in my work. So, if I see a certain gradient in the sky I try to amplify it a little as a backdrop for the lines I’m painting. I also just tend to think in masses of color so sometimes I just spray down a color and stare at it for a while and see what it reminds me of or what other colors it calls to mind. It never ceases to amaze me the way our minds make connections to certain colors. Another inspiration for the motifs, the lines and the compositions I’m making with them, is a sort of visualization of relationships. We travel along through life with other people, cross paths etc. and so I’m often painting two lines at a time together and then basing the rest of a piece off of those interactions. I think that we think of life in a very linear way... I don’t means straightforward, but rather, the concept in general. I think we all tend to see ourselves going through life in a kind of GPS kind of way. We imagine ourselves going places and we think of life as a path and that concept really interests me. I think lines are really an endlessly interesting motif.
What is your process like?
My process has changed a lot with the current work I’m doing. Spray paint and air brush removes a certain kind of control that I had spent a lot of time developing with a brush and I am really enjoying that. It has helped me forget myself in an important way. I was always very emotionally connected to the brush, the romance of an expressionist stroke runs deep with me so detaching myself from the work with spray has helped me think more clearly about my paintings. I’m more in tune with the formal elements now I think. Process is a strange thing... it always has to start with something metaphysical, as in, what got me working on a given day... and then its a matter of either improvising or trying to fulfill a plan. With my public work I’m really focusing on a certain kind of place to put my work. I want them to be in spaces that are easily visible but neglected. We don’t always see what we’re supposed to see when we’re out and about and we could probably go on all day about why that is but this work is meant to just go straight at a solution to that... namely, putting serious paintings in a signage form and trying to snag the eyes of passers by. I pay more attention to my world when I think I might be missing art along the way.
Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?
My current studio is on the first floor of my house. I love it. It’s fairly well lit and my family is around. I don’t need much space right now but I am really grateful for what I have... right now at least it’s more than enough. Music is important to me, I kind of like everything. I do sometimes like to paint without it because the background noise of my kids watching Scooby Doo Where Are You or the old Batman TV show is such a happy kind prof background noise to me. Or, they’ll get caught up in such a good little kid jam session just playing some imaginary game together, my seven year old daughter playing with my three year old is the sweetest noise I can think of. They’re pretty hilarious too so I just listen to them and laugh while I work. One thing I definitely need is a pot of coffee. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too many years now and that’s my need I guess.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
My favorite thing about being as artist is the way that it has helped me learn to use my eyes. I’ve been really fortunate to pursue my Masters Degree in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design over the past few years and I think the most important skill I’m leaving there with is a vastly improved ability to take notice of my world, the ability to really use my eyes and take things in. I’m so glad for that. I think it’s also helped me sharpen my memories too. I can remember colors from my childhood better now. I know that sounds strange but I think it’s true.
Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?
The big things going on for me right now: I graduate on Friday, May 31st!! I’ll be in Savannah to walk and get my degree! Who knows, maybe I’ll leave some signage behind too... My thesis exhibition is in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, June 7 at Gallery Edit on Broad Street and I’m excited to install this show. Last but not least, my wife and I added our fourth child to our family at the end of April! His name is Hank and he’s the sweetest little guy. Mom and baby are both doing well. Oh yeah, getting picked up by PxP of course. Grateful.
Browse Seth’s available works with PxP Contemporary.