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Suzanne Schmaltz - 2013 Emerging Artist

Author: Debra Kline
Issue: March, 2013, Page 80

Suzanne Schmaltz
Lake Powell, Arizona

What is your art background?
My childhood home was filled with art in progress. As an artist, my mother exposed me to numerous mediums and materials as far back as I can remember. She and I continue to challenge each other in our artistic endeavors. I studied wood, metal work and ceramics in college, and am self-taught in all manners of beading and pine-needle basketry.

What sets your work apart from others in your field?
I utilize a beading technique developed by the Huichol Indians in Mexico when creating my animal skulls. It is a time-consuming process in which thousands of beads are hand-placed, one bead at a time, into an applied-wax base. I have learned to listen to the energy of each skull as I begin to make my design and color choices. I love the spiritual connection that develops with each design. In regard to my basket sculptures, the pine-weaving process lends itself to an interpretation of natural surroundings. The ceramics have a leather-like quality, with coloring that mimics the landscape of sandstone and rock prevalent around my home.

Where do you find inspiration?
Simply put—nature. The colors, textures, motions and history of natural elements are a constant inspiration. The weathered alterations in a piece of driftwood, or the layering and swirling of sandstone—they are magical to me. Nature is the epitome of perfected art.

What do you love most about your medium?
I love that I am “painting” with beads. Initially, Huichol beading was simply an exploration in beading techniques; however, after my first application, an instant spiritual connection was made and it has become a genuine love affair. My basket sculptures began the same way. Never being an artist who was satisfied with a singular element, combining my pit-fired ceramics with pine-needle weaving seemed a natural connection. I have yet to find the limits of basket weaving, and pit firing keeps my clay bases an ever-new experience as so many influences come together to create the varied colorations.

What is your most significant art-related achievement?
Eleven of my skulls were purchased as part of the artwork for the newly renovated Presidential Suites at the Gaylord Texan Resort outside of Dallas. Also, having my basket sculptures chosen by author Dawn Whitehand as part of her upcoming book Pit Firing—Ancient Methods, Modern Techniques (Schiffer Publishing), to be released in 2013.

What’s on the horizon?
I am looking forward to creating much larger basket sculptures in the future with a new, higher-capacity ceramic kiln that I recently acquired. I will continue to do my own original beaded skulls, further exploring design options to illustrate an animal’s life from beginning to end.

Raspberry Patch Bliss, mixed media, 21"H x 17"W x 17"D

Moon Flight, mixed media, 16"H x 23"W x 20"D
Outlaw, mixed media, 25 1/2"H x 21 1/2"W x 9"D

While Searching for Zen, mixed media, 14"H x 17"W x 17"D

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