EN: Your work is distinctive. What are the materials you work with and how did you learn these skills?
I grew up working with steel from a very young age. My family's welding shop was (and still is) about 50 feet from the house, so the techniques of metal fabrication became second nature. One of my earliest memories is learning to sweep the shop when I was 5 or 6. I first learned to use a torch around 9 and I was welding at 11 or 12.
EN: Your inspiration comes from nature. Can you elaborate on that?
EN: You could have "painted" these unusual forms, but instead chose to sculpt them. Were there certain sculptors who have ignited your imagination to turn your ideas into 3-D expressions?
EN: How do you decide what size you will make these pieces?
SS: First you have to decide what the context for the finished work is. Scale is almost entirely a matter of context and distance. Will it be going indoors, outdoors, in a large park, in an intimate garden? But after many years, I find myself coming back to the scale of an upright human adult and how they interact with a work. The detailed texture of my sculpture lends itself to close examination so, I want the scale to be approachable as well. For outdoor work, I tend to like something 8-10' tall. That's big enough to hold it's own in the landscape but still approachable.
EN: Your current show got some press in Art in America magazine. Where did the title of the show "Midwest Gothic" come from?
EN: Where do you currently live and how have the places you've lived influenced your work?
SS: I live in rural Sauk Rapids, MN - a bit Northeast of St. Cloud and a little over 6 miles from where I grew up. My studio is at the house, so I leave the property as seldom as possible. We bought some land out here a couple years back and when I'm not making sculpture, I'm working on planting a food forest/sculpture park hybrid I'm calling PermaSculpture. My sculptures have always felt as if they could have grown up out of this landscape... now I am actually growing this out of the land as well.
EN: Will you back at Park Point Art Fair next summer? Where else can we see more of your work?
SS: I will probably be back next year, but the best place to see my work is at www.sculptorsam.com
EdNote: Be sure to follow the link to his website. His output and imagination are both impressive. And if you get the chance, don't forget to see Diggity Dog Days this weekend at Duluth's Play Ground.