OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Wade Schaming

Unsteady (Tough Love Remix) Tower (2018)

WADE SCHAMING's sculptures are more like occurrences than objects. His temporary assemblages are precariously balanced towers of discarded objects (e.g. vintage tupperwarea metal bed frameplastic milk crates) that offer viewers the opportunity to contemplate impermanence and to see the beauty in our trash. Wade earned his MFA at School of Visual Arts and his BA at University of Pittsburgh. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at Art & History Museums – Maitland (2020), Jentel Foundation (2018), Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (2017) Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts (2017) and Yaddo (2016), to name a few. In 2019 his work was included in the group show The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at Equity Gallery (New York), where he is also in an upcoming show. Rapture: A Queer Taste for Color, Texture and Decorative Pattern opens on April 28, 2021 and runs through May 22. Wade lives and works in New York City.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Your sculptures are made entirely of stacked, balanced found objects. How did you arrive at this process? What is the relationship between precariousness and balance in your work? 

Wade Schaming: I imagine my comfortability with using found materials is rooted in my experience growing up in the home of a hoarder.  My mother kept anything and everything: from disposable cups to outgrown clothes to the daily mail. Her collected and accumulated things formed piles on top of piles of junk throughout the home, all of which were placed and held together by balance. I think my processes were learned through this early experience, and my sculptural work is a response to her method.

Orange Crown Tower (2019)

OPP: I imagine this process is a constant interplay of form and function—or composition and physics. Does either of these drive you more than the other? Do you ever sacrifice formal concerns in favor of stability or vice versa?

WS: I definitely limit my options by not fastening anything together. It has been disappointing when an object—something so perfect—would look so good within a piece I am working on, but it is either not stackable or too heavy to place on top of what I already have assembled.

Don't Know Why Tower (2020)

OPP: What does the process of stacking and balancing FEEL like? 

WS: Stacking unrelated objects on top of each other feels like pure magic when the right combination fits together, creating something that seems to appear like it was always meant to be arranged that way. That’s what I’m after. I bring together old disparate things and place them into a new format, finding purpose in an object’s afterlife through pairing.

But You Said You Love Me Tower (2020)

OPP: Tell us about your collection process. Are you more hunter or gather?

WS: It is probably equal parts of both and depends on the circumstance. I would say I’m constantly in a gathering state, open to finding things for the studio or accepting an object that is given to me if it is stackable. When I am doing an artist residency outside of New York, where I live, I immediately start hunting for materials to use upon arrival.

Bed Bug Tower (2018)

OPP: What are some examples of some residency experiences where you went hunting and discovered materials and objects that were unique to the location? 

WS: For Somethin' 'Bout You Tower (2017), I borrowed snow stakes—used for their extreme winters—from a shed at Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts in Ithaca, New York. Wild Sack Tower (2018), which I made at Jentel Foundation in Banner, Wyoming, includes a deer skull—a decorative motif synonymous with the West—from the land. Orlando, Florida Tower (2020) includes a palm frond and Spanish moss from the residency grounds at Art & History Museums Maitland in Maitland, Florida.

Unending Volley Of Whys Tower (2017)

OPP: Does storage and organization of the objects in your studio play a role in thinking creatively? 

WS: Definitely! When an arrangement of objects isn’t working, I’ll put it aside or disassemble it and put everything back in the pile with the other randoms to marinate. Sometimes an assemblage comes together so quickly that it feels almost too easy and leads me to doubt its potency. But other times, I’ll have materials in my studio for years without ever using them. Usually, if it makes it into my studio, I’m going to use it. It just requires patience and for me to be around them, day after day, for an arrangement to click in my head. Also, putting things away that aren’t working is an act of playing—which I have learned is so important to continue doing—and it gets the material in my hands and has me practicing order without the more formal mode or official act of “I am making art.”

Luv Cuff Tower (2018)

OPP: In your statement, you write,”From discarded and forgotten objects, which memorialize hope, the assembled forms aspire to return dignity to the bearer and evoke empathy in the viewer.” Could you talk more about hope and dignity in the work?

WS: The materials I am most attracted to are quotidian but discarded or forgotten. When I create a new sculpture out of found and collected objects, I am giving the materials within the artwork purpose again. If the objects were personified, they would have hope. 

Brown Madonna Tower (2016)

OPP: Would you pick a favorite work and talk us through what you love about it. 

WS: I made Brown Madonna Tower (2016) at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York. It includes a hula hoop I that I think I found in the rec room, a crate from the garden and a rolled wire netting or fence that was extremely heavy. I found it caked into the ground, under a tree, and it appeared to be abandoned on the residency grounds. I think I love this piece because of its ephemerality. I did not clean the netting/fencing wire and let the soil and leaves remain. After I successfully dragged the rolled wire into my studio, it stood upright on its own, as if it was always meant to be that way.

To see more of Wade's work, please visit www.wadeschaming.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist  Stacia Yeapanis.  When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her MFA in 2006. Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at  BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan, 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), Indianapolis Art Center (Indianapolis, 2017), Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois 2018), Kent State Stark (North Canton, 2019), and Finlandia University (Hancock, Michigan 2020). Stacia is one of three 2021 Artists-in-Residence at Zócalo Apartments (Houston, TX). Follow her @staciayeapanis to see what happens @zocalo_air.