Artist Interviews: David Stahl & Ryan Seslow

December 2017

This past fall during one of our monthly studio visits, David Stahl and I came up with an idea to interview each other and discover a bit more about each other’s artistic process. It was a lot of fun! Its a great reminder that inspiration is always so close by and that the more we share, the more we discover and learn back in return. This is contagious energy. Who inspires you? What questions would you like to ask that person? What is stopping you from doing that?

1. Was there someone who influenced you to become an artist when you were younger? If someone did what was special about that person? 

Ryan – I am influenced by so many things that contribute to being an artist. First and foremost I loved cartoons as a child. I would watch them on Saturday mornings and try to draw them from the TV screen as they moved. I would do this for hours and hours. My art teachers always inspired me greatly. I loved to watch them describe our class projects and then help us create them. This carried on all through high school and college. However in college I realized I could become the teacher that I needed most to help me grow and evolve. And then after 15 years of teaching I have realized that it is my students who inspire me most of all! The exchange of learning from other artists and how we all uniquely create and communicate with our work. (I still keep in touch with my high school art teachers.)

David – My high school teachers also had great influence in my wanting to become an artist. Chris gave me the way to express that desire. The art teachers helped me try new things. My parents have always supported me. Mark continues to be my buddy and helper. You expanded my knowledge and world with the creation of my website. I am fortunate to have these people in my life. 

 

2. What inspires you now to keep creating works that are interesting for you to do?
 
Ryan – Life itself and the process of becoming more aware and conscious as I grow older. (Wow, Did I say that?) I am fascinated by the fact that each day we wake up and there is another 24 hours waiting for us to create something new. I am discovering that the practice of awareness itself brings newness into our realm of what is possible. I keep expanding on that .
David – I use many materials In my work so no two pieces are the same. It is the uniqueness of each work that inspires me to keep creating more. Often the image I have in my mind is quite different than the final product. Some works are confined to a pre selected border and others evolve as I go. 

3. How do you assess your own work and to what degree do the comments of others influence your assessment?

Ryan – I assess my own work in a few ways. For one, I observe it in process and after it is completed. I look at it carefully and I make some notes about what I like and what I dislike. I consider how it can also be another way. I then share it on the web and through various projects. Some are traditional ways, like in galleries, but some are non-traditional such as leaving my work in public spaces without permission. I understand that the sheer fact that I am creating “something” means that everyone who shares this planet with me is entitled to their own opinion on the experience they have with the work, and everyone is right and wrong at the same time. I don’t take on negative critiques personally, I listen to the feedback and welcome it as a part of the process of the works potential. Sometimes I make adjustments based on those experiences, sometimes I do not. Either way, I am always seeking to learn something from each experience.
David – I sometimes reflect on my work by writing about my art in poetic form on my website. It is easier for me to think about my work in this way. While I have had some of my work displayed in shows I am not comfortable in venues with a lot of people. It is difficult for me to interact in those settings. I do appreciate the comments people make when they see my work and feedback on my website. People have been extremely complementary about my work and I have enjoyed presenting to high school and college students about how I got into sculpture. 

 

4. Is there something that is unique to your work that can identify you? 

Ryan – Yes, my ability to reinvent myself and my work. I want to learn and apply what I am learning at all times. I am not attached to one process or one medium. I want to see what the limitations are and how I can break them free of my perceptions.

David – It is the process of using the hot glue gun to assemble my pieces that defines most of my work. I break away from that when using clay to make pottery. There is a style of complexity and simplicity that is present in all my work.  

5. Do you approach your work the same way each time you create a new sculpture?

Ryan – I have for sure. Some bodies of work evolve as a series or a thread of works that follow a technique or a method. I enjoy this for a while but then seek to do something new with its outcome. 

David – it usually is the same for me. I prefer to have routines in my life and sculpture is no different.