10 Questions with Adam du Shole
Q: Who is Adam du Shole?! Where are you from and what has your journey to becoming an artist looked like?
A: This is a long convoluted story. I'm a Navy brat, so even though I was born in Rhode Island, I'm from no place in particular. Like most artists, I started young and my parents encouraged me as a child. After some negative experiences in high school, I had written off going to art school and ended up getting a BA in English Literature. Which isn't the most useful degree but looking back, having an opportunity to study history, culture, critical theory, anthropology, and world religions informed my current artistic practice. I moved overseas to Japan to teach ESL for a few years and, among other things, that experience cemented a decision to re-commit to being an artist. I returned to the US and entered the MFA Animation program at Rochester Institute of Technology. I moved to NYC after graduation and ended up working in advertising, animation, and freelancing as a designer, sign painter, visual merchandiser and illustrator. I even did chalk murals for local cafes in Brooklyn. Ultimately, all this led me to want to have the time, money and space to create my own work. So, I left the city and moved to Greenville. My parents had retired and been living here for about 10 years at that point, so it was an easy jump. I landed in 2016, found an amazing little mill house by the train tracks and haven't looked back. I'm still relatively new to the fine arts space - my first solo show was in Spartanburg in 2020 - and it's been better every year.
Q: For those that haven't had the chance to see your work in person, walk us through your medium and they way your work comes to life...
A: All my pieces start as vague ideas - some cool thing that I've read or seen will spark me to do more reading and research. I keep a sketchbook of scribbled ideas, color palettes, and quotes from books or wikipedia. Often, I'm walking around thinking about an idea for a piece until the idea feels "ready". If you ever see me in public and it looks like I'm just staring off into the horizon wistfully, I'm not; I'm working on a piece. Since I'm self-taught as a sculptor and use wood as a base for my sculptures, understanding the logistics for construction - creating something that appears seamless - is important. After that, it's pretty straightforward. Just me in my yard or studio with some wood, a jigsaw, and spray paint for a few days.
Q: What do you think your art tells a collector about you personally or is it more about an overall theme?
A: I try to harness my OCD for the forces of good, so I hope that a collector can see that I value a certain level of precision and pride in my craftsmanship. Beyond that, I want a collector to see something that is fun and contains a thread of history throughout. In a broad way, my work is about celebrating all the magical thinking and whimsy and eccentricities of humanity making sense of the world around them.
Q: Are there other mediums that you want to explore?
A: While I was prepping for 'The Longest Day' exhibition with Art & Light, I actually received a whole set of tools and glass sheets for making stained glass. I'm very excited to see how I can combine stained glass panels with my wood sculptures.
Q: What colors and shapes are most exciting to you?
A: I live by a "neutral + neon = good" formula for my color choices. Placing extremely saturated, bright colors against the beauty of the natural grain of wood, for example, means that they have a chance to exist independently but also highlight each other's respective beauty. There's something about placing very "unnatural" and "natural" colors together that does it for me. In terms of shape, I lift entirely from organic shapes but like to do a geometric distillation of the shape - sort of a halfway-to-abstraction process that involves a lot of math, believe it or not.
Q: Why have you chosen to create sculptural constructions?
A: Given my interests in anthropology and history, combined with the fact that I'm a self-taught sculptor, I gravitated toward folk-art as a major source of inspiration. Folk art traditions have the ability to exist purely as a utilitarian object and as a symbol of cultural transmission. You can look at a bowl and just see a bowl. Or, you can look at a bowl and know that the pattern, motifs and color choices indicate origin, history and people. With that in mind, I like to make objects that can be appreciated aesthetically on a deceptively simple level, but then "discovered" by the viewer when provided with more context or information. It's the reason all my titles are left as clues to the meaning of the piece. I feel like that act of engagement and communication with a viewer is one of the most compelling facets of being an artist.
Q: What time of day do you find yourself at your most creative?
A: My best ideas come to me between 12 and 2am
Q: What artists are inspiring you lately and why?
A: Boy Kong is amazing. His work inspired me to combine my painting with wood sculpture initially. Paolo Puck does unreal felted sculptures that I recommend looking up as well. Beyond that, I love most global folk art traditions because I feel a sense of continuity with those artists.
Q: If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go and why?
A: The countryside of Mongolia. I've always wanted to go. I've had the luck to visit some of the largest, most populated cities in the world, but I'd like to experience a mode of human living that exists totally divorced from modern life. Plus, one of their folk traditions includes training and hunting with Golden Eagles. I don't think anything approaches being cooler than that.
Q: What is a fun, little known fact about you?
A: When I was 7, I won a coloring contest. The prize was getting to be a clown in the Barnum & Bailey's Circus!