An Interview with Scott Pennington by Rebecca Juliette

Artists Work is a BmoreArt interview series that explores the work that artists do to make a living while they work on their ‘real work’ – their art.

Statement from the artist:

My recent work is inspired by the concepts of labor and the unending necessity of man to ‘work’. Utilizing large-scale installation and performance, I explore cultural and social concepts that place the human in society as a tool or commodity to be exploited. Often, tasks we perform as part of our jobs are monotonous and ambiguous when viewed from the outside. For some, work is a pleasant experience, but for many it consists of tasks in which they must continually force themselves to engage.

Scott Pennington- Bombers – Part of WAVE and PARTICLE at School 33 Art Center from February 3 – April 15, 2017.

I deal with the idea of the worker as one who is not concerned with the greater world but is focused only on the task at hand. In my performances the characters often have nameless and faceless parts to play.

Woodworking is my profession. I design and build furniture and cabinetry, and thrive on the problem solving inherent in my chosen career. My art is often a departure from this task-based way of working, while continuing to utilize my skills as a craftsperson. Through the use of skilled craftsmanship and live, interactive performance, I continually seek ways for the general public to appreciate my work and enjoy themselves, regardless of their knowledge or previous experience of art.

Name: Scott Pennington
Website: scottpenningtonart.com

Description of Art You Make:

I primarily make large sculpture and installations with kinetic and light based components, often for public events including Artscape and Light City Baltimore. The environments that I create frequently mimic real life situations designed for stimulating our senses in a very basic way like carnivals, casinos and playgrounds.

Day Job:

I am the art handler and general handy-person for the Baltimore based interior design firm Jenkins Baer Associates.

Hours per week at work: 40

Hours per week in studio: 20-40+ depending on deadlines

Duties or tasks performed at day job: 

I assist interior designers with the installation of furniture, accessories, and artwork at clients’ residences.

Best thing about your day job:

I have wonderful co-workers and there is a strong sense of teamwork.   The firm is full of inspired people and creative energy. Everyone is very supportive of me as an artist and management does their best to give me the flexibility I need when I have large studio projects in the works.

How does your day job enhance or detract from your studio practice?

The ways we connect to interior spaces and our environment have always been a part of my artwork. Working with interior designers has enabled me to explore this way of thinking from a different perspective. In my art, I focus not only on ‘the product’ itself but also the process of production, installation, and all of the other logistical concerns. These are very important considerations in the design field and in that manner my practice and my day job complement each other very well.

Favorite job ever:

When was in high school I worked at The Donut Shoppe in Frederick Md. I would show up and make donuts all evening. It was great! Also it was great being self-employed.

Job you couldn’t wait to leave:

Sorting dirty uniforms and bar rags for a laundry company. There were always maggots in the bins full of rags. I lasted about a week.

Is it your goal to become a full-time artist? Why or why not?

Possibly, but not at the moment. I was self-employed for about 9 years. The autonomy and self reliance are very  empowering but the hustle can be exhausting I currently have a good day job/studio practice balance and I think that’s important for me. Removing the pressure of needing to feed myself makes the work I produce much more personally satisfying and enriching.

What advice do you have for young artists just out of school, in terms of balancing your work and studio practice?

I think it’s important to pay off your student loans ASAP. If that means you need to work at a job more than you want to for a while just do it and don’t sweat it.
Don’t be afraid to work hard and don’t be discouraged if you go through dry spells or broke spells. Craftsmanship and work ethic are important in your studio practice and at your day job. Always try to work with good people even if it’s not a dream job.

What’s coming up next for you as an artist? What projects are you working on or looking forward to?

I’m trying to find ways to build large-scale projects that weigh a lot less than the things I have been doing. I am in a show with some great artists at School 33 that runs Feb. 3- April 15 and I have a solo show in the fall at Penn State.

SuperGame!- Artscape 2014
Plaza – Light City 2016
photo credit Mitch Allen Plaza – Light City 2016
photo credit Mitch Allen

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Scott Pennington’s work will be in the School 33 show WAVE AND PARTICLE, curated by Melissa Webb. Also featuring Tommy Bobo, Katie Duffy, Jenn Figg & Matthew McCormack, Karen Lemmert, and Rachel Schmidt. 

Running from 2/3 – 4/15/17.

Free Opening Reception: Friday, February 3, 20176-9pm.

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Author Rebecca Juliette the heart of the artist and the brain of a librarian. She is BmoreArt’s Events and Calls for Entry Manager.