Amber Scoon was a student at Chautauqua Institution’s School of Art in 1999. She returns to Chautauqua to discuss her first book, which came out in May. Scoon dedicated the book to Don Kimes, artistic director of Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, for introducing her to the world of contemporary art and to art as an academic study. She also studied with Kimes while earning her master’s at American University.
A special guest in VACI’s Visual Arts Lecture Series, Scoon will speak at 4 p.m. today in Strohl Art Center. She previously spoke this season at the opening reception for “Looking Forward Looking Back,” an exhibition of student work, which opened at Fowler-Kellogg Art Center in June and closed earlier this month.
During her lecture, Scoon plans to share her theory of art as an uncertain act, which she explores in her book, Quantum Art. When she was training as a landscape painter and drawer in the 1990s, art education was very regimented, Scoon said. Artists had to explain exactly what they were doing in their work and what it meant, which she thought felt antithetical to the spirit of art.
“Quantum physics inspires me,” Scoon said, “because we moved from Newtonian physics, where everything in the world is easily explainable, to this mind-blowing chaos of quantum theory, where you never know exactly where all the particles are.”
Scoon, who serves as an assistant professor of art at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said she’s excited about the idea that artists don’t really know what art is, what they’re doing with it or what’s even possible to do with it. She thinks of art as an infinite question, which perhaps explains her transition from landscape artist to mixed-media artist. Her latest artistic obsession is making paper by hand; she has also learned to cast iron.
“It seems like every project I do,” Scoon said, “I learn about a new material. Whatever material I can learn about, I use.”
Scoon’s work has been influenced by her travels: She spent four years living in Italy and one year living in the Ukraine. She draws on what she calls the “nameless,” meaning things she’s experienced but can’t explain in words. Although Scoon won’t have slides of her work to show at her lecture, she will discuss how her artistic process aligns with the theory of art she describes in her book.
“It’s a history and philosophy of art dating back to the ancient Greeks,” Scoon said. “It ends with contemporary art and the question of what we’re actually doing when we make art.”