Scott Meskill: An Everlasting Itch
Painter + sculptor Scott Meskill expresses themes of hope, boundaries + current political issues through a series of captivating faceless, limbless figures. The LA-based artist is taking over ShockBoxx Gallery with his solo show An Everlasting Itch, opening this Saturday, June 29th from 7:00-9:00pm, and the refreshingly dark show is a mix of paintings + sculptures composed of woods, metals + clay. We chatted with Scott all about the show, his exploration of art forms, his figures + what’s next.
Asymmetric Magazine: Congrats on your upcoming solo show! Can you tell us what it’s all about?
Scott Meskill: The show is titled An Everlasting Itch, and it’s based off of a quote from Moby Dick, ‘As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote’. I really related to that feeling of being tormented by a need. In this case, I’m very much consumed with creating. I found a wonderful platform to do it in sculpture and painting, and I feel really connected to that quote because it’s such a desire and need. The particular body of work at this show represents my persistent path of discovery regardless of barriers and despite limitations. When you look at the work, you can see a lot of limbless characters in motion. Those limbs represent some type of limitation, and the walls represent barriers. For me, the general essence of the show is ‘hopeful’.
AM: We love that it’s hopeful, and we’re drawn to the dark look and nature of the pieces. Are there any consistent themes you pursued through these pieces?
SM: It changes as I get more in tune with myself. I always think art should be a clear representation of the relationship you have with yourself. The most powerful relationship we have is with ourselves. The further I dive into my work, different stuff always comes out, and the themes always vary. For the past two years, I’ve been working solely on my art. I’ve been really focused, so I’m finding the nature of the pieces getting deeper. We’re all surrounded with what’s going on today, and it’s hard to focus on ourselves considering what’s happening at the border, or to women in this country, or globally, or economically. Part of the artist’s role is to bring some of that stuff to the surface. I don’t always intentionally go into political or social issues, but it definitely bleeds into my work depending on how I’m feeling. A lot of the time, I won’t even realize it until after I complete a piece, and I’ll just think, ‘Wow, this must have to do with what’s going on in the world right now’.
The most powerful relationship we have is with ourselves.
AM: Do you have a piece that you resonate with the most?
SM: There’s a piece in the show titled HB, and it’s based on the new heartbeat bill, which is so frustrating. It’s kind of an anti anti-abortion piece. The piece was done by sculpting a figure of a woman in a particular pose, and I built a frame around it. I initially titled it after a house bill that was proposed in Texas that basically stated that abortion is murder and those who perform abortions would be charged with murder. I thought it was so ridiculous and so insane, so I titled the piece HB 486 after the bill number. Soon enough, Texas wasn’t the only state proposing these ridiculous bills. Now in 2019, there are hundreds of bills against abortion that have been introduced. So, I amended the piece to include a bunch of placards that read different house bills. It’s a powerful piece, and I’m really attached to it since it has a lot of meaning of what is going on today.
AM: Have you always been drawn to figures?
SM: I don’t know that I’ve always been drawn to them as much as it is that I’m becoming accepting of figures. It’s funny—a few years back, I did a collaborative painting with my now fiancé. She was more into abstract art, and I was into figurative art. We would do back and forth paintings and paint over each other’s work. Every time she’d paint an abstract piece, I’d see a figure in it, and every time I’d paint a figure, she would turn it into an abstract. It was such an interesting dialog, and through that process, I learned that there’s something I really enjoy about the human figure—particularly an expressive and not necessarily a realistic one. I’ve done realistic portraits and sculptures based on live models, and while I enjoy that, I think there’s something more interesting about the expression of one’s opinion through a figure instead. I always want to put my own spin on characters, and figures are such a great way to express emotion. I like exploring the blend of figures with more abstract backgrounds, too.
AM: You work with a variety of materials like woods and metals, as well as different art forms of painting and sculpture. Do you have a favorite medium to work in?
SM: Absolutely. Wood and metal are my mainstay. My background is in furniture and home good design, and I’m really drawn to repurposing woods and metals. I love reusing metals and welding them to create new things. It was only recently that I got into sculpting with oil based and water based clays, and I’m really starting to open up to it. I find that I’m always blending materials. In the future, I see a really fun convergence of all the skills I’m learning—figurative sculpting, painting and architectural elements. I just got back from Rome, and I was really inspired by everything going on there. For example, Bernini studied the lighting of a building and designed something specifically for one spot based on the lighting. He planned out paintings, architecture and everything about it. I’m really inspired by pulling in all of these skills I’ve been developing all my life and having one central message that comes out of it.
AM: You incorporate a lot of frames (and the occasional bird cage) in your work. Are those custom made or do you source found objects?
SM: I build my own frames because I’ll often repurpose beautiful wood that people might be getting rid of. A lot of the time, I paint on wood or hardboard, and it will be a random custom size that needs a random custom frame. But, I do a lot of thrift shopping. I’m at thrift stores all the time, and I like to look for baroque and gothic frames. I prefer creating something on my own though; it’s the last little bit of narrative I can add to a piece. As for the bird cage, that was a found object that I customized and welded together.
AM: We have to ask: What music are you listening to right now?
SM: I listen to old school industrial. I always say if there was a soundtrack to my work, it would be Nine Inch Nails. I tend to listen to a lot of screamo type music: Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Tool, The Bronx, and Refused. Sometimes when I’m painting, I can go a little lighthearted with classical or jazz, but most of the time, it’s heavy. That’s what works well with welding and grinding metal and the general angst I feel when I’m creating my work. Screaming tends to go well with my work.
AM: What can we expect to see from you next after this show?
SM: I’m really excited because I feel a change on the horizon, and something new is coming. I think the next phase will have a higher level of detail, stronger meanings and deeper context. I’ve been surrounding myself with really good people, and I always tell anyone getting into the art world to surround yourself with the right people. I’m finding great mentors and peers to look up to, and I hung out with some of the best people in Rome who got me really inspired for the future of my work. I want to incorporate some of their perspectives into my work, as well. I want to create a narrative and build a story out of sculpting and painting coming together. I’m really excited for what’s to come!
An Everlasting Itch is opening at ShockBoxx Project on Saturday, June 29 7:00-9:00pm // more info
// photos courtesy of Scott Meskill
// View more of Scott’s work at scottmeskilldesigns.com.