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THOMAS SCOON Companions
June 5 - August 20, 2015
9 feet x 4.5 feet x 10 inches
Tom Scoon was born in Kenosha, WI in 1961. His mother, an artist herself was involved in arts education when Tom was a child and Tom undoubtedly thrived in an environment where arts and creativity were the bedrock of the childcare experience. Tom remembers making molds and ceramic objects at a very early age even as his mother was taking art classes at the local community college. The Stone object that is pictured here was found by the artist when was about 10 years old. Tom recalls that to his youthful sensibility the stone, which was a “head” from the first moment he saw it, “was scary but seemed so related to what I was going through”. The power contained in this object, mute and impassive as it was, impressed the boy with its timelessness strength. In the early years of his artistic career Tom would spend long hours looking for stones that had a figurative aspect and the kind of mass that appealed to his aesthetic sensibility.
After high school Tom drifted to the east coast and found himself painting nuclear submarines. After realizing that his calling might not be as a union painter he pursued an Associates Degree at a local College near Kenosha and then transferred to Illinois State University. Joel Philip Myers, pioneer of the Studio Glass Movement and Distinguished Professor of Art, accepted him into his prestigious Glass Program, which was filled with an international community of very talented students working in a variety of techniques. Many of the students worked closely with Myers as members of the team that assisted in the creation of his iconic (and massive) Contiguous Fragment Series. Only those fortunate enough to have worked beside the exacting Myers know how great an influence he was in the classroom but the fact that Tom is only one of several distinguished artists that came through Myers’ renowned program. Scoon finished his core academic requirements at community college so his two years at ISU were spent taking art courses and making objects. Whether painting, drawing, blowing glass or casting metal the work was now exclusively figurative.
Tom enjoyed immediate success exhibiting and selling work that he had produced for his BFA exhibition in 1988 at the Habatat Gallery in Michigan. He was accepted into the Masters of Fine Arts Program at Massachusetts College of Art run by Al Klein and Dan Dailey. In Boston Tom continued to develop his techniques and continued to explore figuration, especially in cast glass. The head that he had found when he was ten became the basis for the artist’s MFA thesis exhibition, which featured the Stone and castings made using the Stone.
After earning his MFA in 1990 Scoon again exhibited at the Habatat Gallery and sold enough work to finance a modest studio in the Boston area. Tom supported himself by making custom cabinets and working in the studio of artist Sidney Hutter, a fellow graduate of Illinois State University, who had established a studio several years earlier. During the early 90’s Scoon enjoyed enough commercial success to be able to focus exclusively on his own artwork and career. In 1996 he and his family moved to a rural property in Northwoods, New Hampshire.
Surrounded by heavy woods with stone strewn all around it still feels like a place that was just waiting for Tom to arrive. The artist finds inspiration in the passing of seasons and rhythms of the natural world. In the pitch darkness of night the artist has been taking long exposure black and white photographs. Through his viewfinder he discovered an aching beauty in the leafless branches of the towering Beeches and Oaks and was inspired to add a cast bronze element to his work. The bronze branches embrace his figures even as he tries to suggest that the figures are growing out and away, entwined and blossoming.
Tom’s choice of material reflects the artist’s belief that the stone elements of his sculptures give the figures a timeless quality while the thick translucence of the cast glass suggests a spiritual essence. The figures are “about” family, relationships and history. The Seated Figures, noble, silent and stoic, are self-portraits. Tom reveals that the “inner figures” in works like One in One, 2014 are a reflection of artist’s luminous inner self rather than a symbol of birth and rebirth.
These days the works start with the torso stone. When he first started he looked for stones that already looked like heads and torsos but these days he prefers to work the stone significantly while maintaining the organic qualities of the material. The head is the hardest element since the way it sits on the glass shoulders gives the works their gesture.
Recently the artist created a group of vessels filled with coarsely ground glass for his smaller figures to stand in. Entitled Voyager these works are clearly a metaphor for life’s journeys and coincide with the artist’s children growing up and moving out of the family home.
The gallery is proud to mount this one-person exhibition of new works by Thomas Scoon. The artist has created one of his most ambitious bodies of work ever and we look forward to sharing these works with you.
Ken Saunders 2015
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