Featured Artist: Ingrid Scheibler

In this discussion with artist Ingrid Scheibler, we hear more about how her journey as an artist began, how her process and work has evolved, and what she hopes to see next for her artwork and practice.

Read on to learn about Scheibler’s work, and be sure to visit her at the 2023 Open Studios event happening April 29 & 30. You can find her at 647 Commonwealth Avenue.

Tell us about your work and your process. What do you make and how do you make it?

I make acrylic and mixed media paintings grounded in my former career as a philosopher. The concept of dialogue is central to both my philosophical writings and artistic practice. My paintings are a pictorial conversation in real time. In genuine dialogue one must be open to the presence of otherness, be it another person, tradition, history, or a work of art. I approach the canvas in an improvisational dialogue I want to explore but don’t know its end point. I see the physical space of the canvas as containing the conversation as it is played out through marks, gestures, intention, accident, space, and materials. This process of discovery is alive with energy and animated by a combination of both formal concerns and a psychological awareness of the facts of embodiment and embeddedness in a web of relationships—from the social/political to the familial.

In The Wind, 2022

I also have a distinct body of work I call ‘textile paintings’. In this body of work I use textiles–maritime rope, yarn, wool, thread, twine–which I push through the canvas’ surface, looping, stitching and painting as I form compositions with an overall gestalt. Using textiles gives a tactile immediacy to the painting surface which I love. I approach the textiles as both symbolic and compositional elements. As symbols, I exploit the resonances of my materials (e.g. the resonance of rope or thread to connectivity and bonds, the stringiness of the human body, an arc of longing/desire). Simultaneously, I also examine the relation of inner and outer. Formally, as a lover of line, ropes and threads hang and loop as line and extension of line.  A sort of grammar emerges in the way I hang, loop, bind, stitch and tuft the textiles to the canvas itself, and to other textiles in the painting. The gaze is drawn to surface topographies where the textile elements densely interact and combine with the painted surface in an overall compositional gestalt. Using textiles expands the parameters of painterly composition, the 2D painting surface, and makes the paintings more sculptural and kinetic.

Tell us about how your journey as an artist started. What is your background and what inspired you to commit yourself to a creative practice?
Full of Sound and Fury, 2022

My mother was definitely a big influence growing up. I recall her animatedly showing me the drawings of the German post-war artist Kaethe Kollwitz as one of my earliest childhood memories. Her brother, my uncle, was an amazing artist and activist, who was always taking us to exhibitions in Munich in the 1970’s and 1980’s at the Haus der Kunst, and who especially loved the artists of the German Blaue Reiter at the Lenbachhaus, Sam Francis, and Jean Dubuffet…

I have always been making art in one form or another, from elaborate drawings in the margins of books and notebooks in college, to a body of watercolor and ink pictures I made while doing a Ph.D. in England, where art was a much-needed foil for the intensity of academic writing.

After completing my degrees, I taught philosophy at Boston College for many years with a special interest in 19th and 20th century European philosophy, feminist theory and aesthetics. I published a book on three 20C German philosophers—Heidegger, Habermas and Gadamer–and their views on language and interpretation. While becoming a mother to my three kids, I did some consulting for non-profit arts foundations. After making works on paper for many years (printmaking and watercolor/ink) I was tired of that imagery and wanted to learn to paint on canvas, and paint on a larger scale. I am self-taught and found my familiar territory of bold forms combining abstraction and figuration.

I began painting in late 2015 and took a few years to feel I was developing my own distinctive visual language.

Tell us more about how your practice has evolved. What are some creative accomplishments you are proud of or milestones you have reached along your way?

My work has evolved in the sense that I feel I have developed a distinctive style of painting, even if my paintings can look quite different. I sometimes paint very layered canvases, and sometimes flat and graphic, but I feel there is a through-line which discernibly runs through my work. More recently I have been painting larger canvases, and I find a larger scale liberating. I tend to work ‘square’, and recently have been making 4’ x 4’ and some 6’ x 6’ paintings. Over the past six years, I have also developed an arts CV that has seen my work shown at a number of venues in the greater Boston area, Cape Cod, Connecticut. I was honored to be asked to be the inaugural artist at LabCentral at MIT where the curator found my work and created a show in a space that seeks to bring art and biotech research together under one roof in a mutually inspiring environment. Finally, I recently showed some of my large-scale works at a gallery in Wellfleet, MA, on the Outer Cape, and received my first substantive review in the Provincetown Independent, describing my paintings as “acrobatic…carefully balancing a range of daring painting moves.” I feel lucky to be part of an arts community in both Boston and the Outer Cape, and I look forward to moving into a new studio in Wellfleet in the late Spring.

The River-Merchant's Wife (Ku-to-en), 2020
Tell us about your creative community. Are there any friends, collaborators, teachers, patrons, or organizations who have supported you along the way?
The Saints Will All Be Blue, 2021

As a self-taught artist, I found studio classes early on to be a great source of community and shared critique. My initial experience of this was at the New Art Center in Newton, MA. John Murray’s loose studio classes were a great place to begin to find my way as a painter. Later, in Boston, I met the painter Catherine McCarthy, who is a friend and mentor. I also find inspiration for my work on the Outer Cape, where I spend most summers. The painter Bob Henry is a favorite of mine, and Provincetown is a wonderful artist’s community. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) is one of the finest long-running museums showing both work from its permanent collection as well as showcasing the amazing work of the robust Outer Cape community of artists.

Describe a particularly significant artwork you have created. Why was that piece significant to you and how did it impact your art making practice?

I distinctly remember in my second year of painting, working on a series of boldly colorful graphic paintings. There was one painting I was working on, about fourth in the series, where it felt that a certain command was growing as I was actually painting this particular piece. I can still remember how it felt– as if I was being transported through a portal through that act of painting. It was a singular experience.

Pour Soi, 2022
What’s next for you and your artwork? What can we expect to see from you in the future?
From Here, 2022

I will continue to show in Boston and the Outer Cape. I have a show at AMZehnder Gallery in late June in Wellfeet, and I am looking forward to having a Wellfleet studio at the beginning of the summer.

Casey Curry is a writer and curator guided by the belief that the transformation our world so desperately needs can only come from deep cultural shifts sparked by visionary artists who make fundamental change irresistible. Her research is rooted in thinking creatively about arts administration to uncover what is possible when visionary artists are not just supported by administrative allies, but truly understood and valued by co-creators with complimentary skills that level bureaucratic barriers to societal impact through art.

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