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Burke Residency 18: Mandy Schuster

Written by Emma McFarland

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Posted on May 03 2022

EMMA: Could you introduce yourself and give us a little history on your relationship to making art?

MANDY: Hello! Yes, my name is Mandy Schuster, and I am based in Los Angeles, California. I am a mixed media and textile design artist. My bachelors degree is in Fashion Design, and my relationship with art has evolved from my love for design. Art is a form of therapy for me. It is a space of exploration and clues me into myself. I love the healing that art can facilitate, and I am currently going back to school for my masters to become an art therapist.

Artist Mandy Schuster

E: Much of your work seems to exist at the intersection of collage, sculpture, and painting; could you talk a bit about how you conceptualize and approach the various media that you work in?

M: Thanks for noticing. I love this observation. Yes, I feel the intersection between the three mediums comes from a direct correlation to my surroundings in LA. I am always in awe of this city. So much of my work is influenced by observations in strip malls, faded painted-over colors on buildings, the randomness of something old and new next to each other, the architecture, and the forms that really are endless here. All three have a very tangible quality to them that gets me invested. My collage work inspires my appreciation for simplicity of lines and the relationship they can form. I observe this all over LA through the vast amount of architecture and unique imperfections that exist. I continually see new things in my surroundings. Just the other day, I came across these buildings that were quite boring on Beverly, and when I looked up at them, their roofs were spectacular with clean, bold lines. They didn’t match, but they created a spark, and the lines where the roof met the sky were so interesting. That is the relationship that I try to translate in my collage work.

My desire to paint reflects the same influence but becomes mostly about color. When I chose to paint vs. my collage work, it is more about the relationship of the colors next to each other and the new relationship they form. The shape being painted comes secondary. My need to explore sculpture is a bit of translating what I see in my collage work into something that can be explored from multiple views.

Mandy Schuster Artist Studio

E: An obvious visual reference to some of your work would be Matisse’s cut pieces in their spirit of play and organic whimsy, but what I see as being so alive in your art is an attentiveness to texture, tactility, and negative space. I’d love to hear about your process and what you explore in your art practice.

M: My process is all about interaction, in its simplest form. I find so much delight in interactions between colors, lines, space, and texture. When choosing materials, I have already been brainstorming about surfaces and texture, and collage work with paper allows me to do that. When working with negative space, I feel there is a balance; just the right amount allows the shapes to dance.

I typically start by cutting out shapes and playing with colors and composition until I feel it is right. Working on composition is such exploration. A piece can easily start as one thing and become something entirely different; a lot of my process is cutting and arranging. I have lots of paper in my studio, and it always seems to be the material I gravitate towards. I have to get at least a few pieces every time I go to the art store! And I absolutely love Matisse :)

Mandy Schuster Art Studio

E: As a follow-up to my previous question, it feels as though one could crawl into your art—that somehow it was meant to be lived in. Does architecture inspire you at all? What else inspires you?

M: Wow, I love this! Imagine.

Yes, indeed, architecture inspires me more than I know. I have a love for architecture, and LA is full of unexpected buildings. I am especially drawn to shapes and lines and follow them within the bigger context of the landscape. Nature also inspires me because it fills me up and reminds me of the beauty within everything. Frequent trips to the flower mart also inspires me.

Mandy Schuster Original Art

E: Perusing your work on instagram, I’m struck by how many images that you share capture the play of light and shadow on your pieces. Is this something you are mindful of while creating? Do you make many works that are meant for specific spaces or lighting situations?

M: Yes, I am extremely drawn to the shadows light creates. During the beginning of the lockdown, it became a real staple for me. I was noticing how the light would change in my space and at what time it would hit certain parts. It was a way of keeping time and interacting with this life force. In some ways, I guess you could say it was like a visitor during that time, and I engaged with it. Some days were about working in the sunlight during the hours that it was brightest in my space and then following the suns direction as it faded from my workspace to the farthest wall in my home. When it would hit that spot, it was playful because it warmed everything up subtly, and the shadows of the iron beams or plants outside of my place suddenly entered my space. During this time, light and shadows became interesting to me, even metaphorically. My hope was to draw attention to the warmth and interaction so that maybe others could notice it in their home as well.

Mandy Schuster Art

E: I’m so curious about the digital renderings of your folded pieces that are featured on your website. Could you tell us a little more about what is going on in these works as far as reproduction and digitalization?

M: This is my latest group of work, and I am excited to share it with Burke Mercantile! I have a huge love for paper, and I started to play with the repetition of folding the paper. It evolved into an architectural element where I would make cuts and more folds, and soon the pieces became little 3-D sculptures. I began taking photos of them and altering the colors to have a certain tone that feels similar to newspaper print. The folds also capture the light and shadow, so there is a continuation of shadow play that I love. The folds are calming and add a texture that I am very drawn to. It reminds me of horizontal blinds or corrugated metal.

Mandy Schuster Original Art

E: To conclude, could you give us a little hint about what’s coming up for you or where you see your practice evolving to next?

M: I keep wanting to pursue some large-scale pieces. I think that is what is next. I can imagine these folded pieces being blown up to something, say, 4ft tall, in both the 3-D and digital versions.
Plus, I am really looking forward to this residency with Burk Mercantile, thank you for the opportunity, I am very grateful, and excited to connect with others!
Mandy Schuster Original Art
 

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