Alien Skin Conference Table
Stainless steel and steel, 3' x 5' x 11', 1999

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a r t i s t    o f   t h e    m o n t h

Interview with Heath Satow
by Rocío Heredia

Would you tell me what brought you to California?
This area has much more support for public Art, which is my main interest as an artist.

What has been your experience as an artist in Los Angeles?
It has been a slow process getting into an entirely new place, but things are going well. We have been out here for one year now, and I've already been "short-listed" three times for large public Art projects in the area, which I think is promising - especially since I only began applying for them about eight months ago. I feel like my style of work has a much larger audience here. The people seem to love metal and love contemporary work made from metal. The tastes where I used to live tended much more towards the traditional, which was just not for me.

Where are you from originally?
Originally, a little town in Ohio. My family moved to North Carolina when I was only seven years old, so that's where I really grew up.

When did you become interested in Art?
I always had a crayon or scissors in my hands, from the time I was old enough to hold things. My mother has this great photo of me when I was only about four years old, and in it I am passed out asleep in my pajamas, but I still have scissors in one hand, cut paper in the other, and I am completely surrounded by a mess of crayons and paper strewn everywhere. Every piece of paper had something scribbled on it and parts cut away.

How did you discover you had a talent for sculpture?
My real interest for a long time was drawing, and I considered becoming a professional illustrator. I also had quite an interest in building functional things like kites when I was a kid, as well as furniture and things like that as I got older. I never combined the ideas of "Art" and building things, though, until I took a sculpture studio my second year in design School. My first project had an amazing response - I loved building it and people had such a stronger reaction to the piece than anything I had ever drawn. I was hooked from that point on.

What was your first work of Art? I'm curious to know if you have a picture of this work?
The piece I described above was my first real piece of sculpture, and it was a barbed wire teddy bear that I still own. It has little bits of stuffing scattered through the interior, and a music box that used to play "March of the Teddy Bears" until I flipped the keys around in it so it would play all out of tune. It is called "Love for an Abused Child" - for the class we had to do a piece about a highly emotional subject, so I did a lot of research and found that abused children sometimes tend to see the abuse as a form of affection. That idea affected me strongly, so that's where the idea for this painful children's toy came from.

At what age did you begin to consider a career as a sculptor?
After that sculpture studio in college, I got a job that summer as a "grunt" worker (low paying, low-skill position) in a sculpture studio. Just during that first summer, I was given more and more responsibilities, and I loved the job even though it was very hard work. I decided then that I wanted to continue on this path. I worked there every summer and during breaks until I graduated, and then I went to work there full time. In a few months, I was put in charge of the studio when the previous head of sculpture left.

Where did you acquire your Art design knowledge and skills?
I formed a valuable basic understanding of design and Art in Design College, and supplemented that education working in the studio during summers. It was a good combination of an academic and real-world education.

From which University did you graduate?
The School of Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. That is how I ended up in Raleigh.

Do you have a degree in Sculpture?
They did not have a specific degree in sculpture, so I graduated with an "Environmental Design" degree, with a concentration in sculpture. Their "Environmental Design" program was an open design degree that let you choose your own path. They would screen applicants to that department to make sure that you had a real goal, and that you weren't just in it to float around and lose focus.


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