Upon introductions, Emilie started in describing her recent artwork at her day job, Schmitt Music. The mural on the wall was installation-mounted to be sculpted to her designs of Sioux Falls, and the high school marching band community near the music shop’s location.
“It’s definitely a learning experience. It’s new for me. I usually do clay sculpting. Actually, right now I am doing a series with beeswax, so it’s all different stuff. This is definitely something different – applying heat to it, and burning myself a lot.”
Did your boss ask you to create this?
“Yes he did. That’s what I went to school for, and I have degree in. This is my day job. They just built this new area for our repair man to have his own space to do instruments. This wall here was just big and plain. Actually, this is like my fourth attempt at doing this wall. I’ve painted it over and over and redone it, because that’s kind of an artist thing, but I never found what I wanted to do. I was like, I’m a sculptor and not really a painter, so lets do a wall that I can kind of make three dimensional. So, that’s what I’m going for.”
Describe to us what type of work you do, and your preferred mediums:
Sculpting of all different materials. I use to say I’m just a ceramics sculptor, I’m just a clay sculptor, but I’ve definitely branched out these past couple of years. Like I said earlier, the beeswax is super new for me…then styrofoam, and mostly three-dimensionals.
Did you go to school for that?
I went to school for fine art, but I had to study all the different mediums. To do that, you have to do painting, and printmaking and all that.
Do you have more work at your house?
Yes, I have a series right now that I’m working on that is all about honey bees. I’m actually using real parts of beehives, and then beeswax to sculpt bees out of honeycombs and the wax.
How long have you been doing your specific medium? How has your work evolved over time?
I would actually say for sculpting it’s been since college. Probably about 9 years I’ve been doing all creative stuff, not just one certain thing. I’ve done all different crafts growing up…not just one specific thing. Oh man…overtime just the simple basic pottery wheel stuff, like cups and bowls, to putting it on the wall.
Never done anything like this before, though. Did one sort of wall thing that was actually downtown. In the basement of JAM there was a thing called Art Maze, last year. They asked local artists to pretty much do whatever they wanted with the space. People walked through it like a maze. I did drywall mud on the walls, kind of like a mural to do something different, but never with styrofoam.
Are there any factors that led you to where you are today?
I mean it’s kind of a cliche thing. I was doing something with my hands since I can really remember. Not necessarily coloring in coloring books, but kind of building and making things. It eventually led to the three-dimensional stuff. Just trying to do a painted mural like the one here took three different times, and kept getting painted over. I just couldn’t get it on the flat perspective, it didn’t look good to me. So, it evolved into this.
What usually inspires you to create your work?
Honestly, for this specific one right next to us, my experience from working here these last couple of years. I didn’t know a lot about the band scene and high school marching band until I worked here. Right down the street is the biggest Sioux Falls high school. In this area, and kind of in the country, they are really good. Their marching band performances are outstanding. Just hearing them in the summer, and their practices inspired me. So, this mural is going to be kind of a city with marching bands and stuff like that.
The rest of my work, like the beeswax and everyday life things…it’s kind of advocating, because bees are super important. So, it’s about using the most natural things. All of it is the real thing. I’m using real beehives, and not using glue or paint. All the materials belong to bees.
How long does it typically take you to complete a project?
This one took me a long time. Since like last December, so that doesn’t count. This one would be my longest one. I don’t have a specific set date on it, yet. But, I would say for me it takes longer than a lot people. For me it takes months to do sculptural things. I can’t do quick drawings or paintings. People can do stuff in like a day. Takes me quite longer to do stuff. It also, takes me longer because I have a 3-year-old, and I have my own business, and I work here.
What is your other business?
I just started two months ago – art appraisal, and music instrument appraisal. So, I’m fitting it all in. It can definitely take months to do sculptural things. If its clay, it takes building, letting it dry, and firing it. I don’t get to commit to a lot of shows, because I don’t have a big compilation of works waiting around. But that’s ok, that’s just who I am. I have stuff made specifically for certain things.
Have you sold any of your work?
I have sold smaller works. Downtown Sioux Falls does a great job with the downtown shows for local artists and stuff. The last couple of years I’ve done little clay pieces that were framed. I made like relief things, kind of like this with clay, and actually just fit them with regular picture frames. No glass or anything, and they were painted and everything. So, I’ve sold things like that.
Do you have anything you want to work on in the future?
Yes I do. I feel like it’s kind of secretive, but I’ll give a clue. I definitely have a big idea specifically involving coffee, and like the downtown coffee scene. Using actual parts of coffee, the beans, and all that.
Any skills you would like to develop over time that you haven’t yet?
I don’t know. I would definitely say, sculpting things I have never tried before. Metal working, actually…not sure if you guys noticed the sculpture walk. I would like to do a sculpture like that, but I haven’t done anything that huge, monumental or big. So, just learning how to work with bronze is a long-term goal of mine.
How has Sioux Falls influenced your work? What are your thoughts on the art community in Sioux Falls?
I’m not native here. I’ve been here for like 5 years or so. So, just kind of taking it all in – a lot of the downtown vibe, the people that are down there. The art scene has been influential. I’ve even included the city logo, and the city itself with the old buildings in some of my works.
I think it’s really growing. It’s kind of…I use the word vibrating, and you feel it when you are down there. It’s just growing a lot. People should check into it.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out as an artist?
I would say, just be authentic, and just be who you are. Don’t try to fit in a certain bubble of art. What you are inspired to make, make it. Make it genuine, and for yourself. There will be people who will find you.