Burke Residency 18: Mandy Schuster•
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 :)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?