The artist’s studio is a sanctuary. Maybe it’s just the voyeur in me, but there is something intriguing about exploring another artist’s workspace. It’s enlightening. It not only offers insight into the artist and their inherent character, but also their creative process.
With a long history as an exhibiting artist, gallery director and exhibition curator, I visit artist studios regularly, always looking for unique work with substantial concept and meaning. Recently — on a sunny but very cold winter day in Chicago — I drove to the Ravenswood neighborhood to meet with Jordan Scott, an amazingly talented fine artist with a passion for life, meditation and the interconnectedness of the universe.
After breaching the steel door of a neighborhood warehouse building — converted into artist workspace — I was shown to Scott’s sanctuary. A wall of windows allowed the sun to drench the space with light, making it a wonderful environment to review some of his latest pieces. As I settled in, I scanned the room to find postage stamps everywhere, container after container, bowl after bowl. Mostly organized, the only mess was created by the few strays that had been discarded or had fallen to the floor beneath his easel.
With a love for unconventional materials, used out of context, Scott produces mesmerizing imagery through the repetition of postage stamps. He uses thousands of canceled U.S. postage stamps producing meditative surfaces that allude to communication and the interconnectedness of humanity. When seen from a distance, his technique produces beautiful surfaces of rich color, and as the viewer approaches the work, they are met with the surprising realization of unexpected intricacy.
Scott’s latest body of work introduces a meditative vertical grid-like pattern reminiscent of minimalist artist Agnes Martin [1912-2004]. Like Martin, the imagery is comprised of a series of repetitive vertical lines that are produced with a monochromatic color scheme. The result is a soothing visual surface. He creates the lines by laying similar stamps adjacent to one another. Upon closer inspection, the viewer realizes that each stamp has a unique characteristic… the cancelation marks from somewhere around the world. The consistency of the stamps, contrasted with the uniqueness of the cancelation marks, become metaphor for our global population.
He has a fascination with Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and the interconnectedness of the universe. In past artist statements, he references the exploration of the parts to understand the whole, a global view, and the interconnectedness of the universe. From Scott’s artist statement:
“The postage stamp collages [are] each composed of hundreds or thousands of similar elements, … [creating] an interconnected and interdependent whole much greater than the sum of its parts.”
An idea clearly represented in his work.
With an upcoming exhibition at the Union League Club, Scott plans to exhibit two somewhat different bodies of work. The first is a single representation of the American flag — a theme he has revisited once each year, for the past seven years. With obvious references to patriotism, Americana and Pop culture, the iconic imagery gives a nod to the Abstract Expressionist painter, Jasper Johns [b. 1930]. The second body of work explores a patchwork randomness, which he defines as “landscape.” These pieces reference the farmland of the Midwest — as seen from above. Selected intuitively, the seemingly arbitrary color blocks also have a flavor bordering on American folk art — ironically, with a contemporary twist.
Scott’s solo exhibition titled “Canceled” at Union League Club of Chicago, located at 65 W. Jackson Boulevard, opens Thursday, March 3, from 5:30 to 7p.m. He will give a talk at 6 p.m. to his work as well as the pieces selected for exhibition. The exhibition runs through April 1. Union League Club enforces a business casual dress code. Additional information can be found on the Union League Club website: www.ulcc.org.
Also watch for Scott’s inclusion in a group exhibition titled “Words, Numbers & Symbols: An Exploration of Letterforms in Fine Art” at The Art Center of Highland Park. The group also includes work by Chicago area artists: Audry Cramblit, Katsy Johnson and Carrie Ann Bronkowski, and Florida native, Tim Yankosky. Each of the exhibiting artists incorporates letterforms into their work to present a unique visual message. The Art Center-Highland Park exhibition will run March 4 through April 7 with a public reception Friday, March 4 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Art Center is located at 1957 Sheridan Road in Highland Park. Additional information can be found online at theartcenterhp.org.
Scott’s work is also available at Artspace 8, located on the third and forth floors of the 900 North Michigan Building on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Additional information can be found online at Artspace8.com.