Dori’s apartment is compact and comfortable– sparse, practical, but still cozy. Pouring me a glass of water, she talks about different books that she’s reading. One is called The War of Art. I take a photo to remember it. I’m trying to get better at remembering. The book unpacks obstacles artists face– ambition, blocks, and other interior struggles. It tries to provide solutions.
We walk out the door, down the stairs, and around to Dori’s art studio. It’s a hot day, but cold inside. This reminds me of spending time with my dad in his workshop. Her studio actually is a workshop, unlike my studio which is scattered throughout my house–gathered in random corners of the backyard.
Most of Dori’s work focuses on sculpture: a mixed media mash-up of found objects, metal, and color. She allows the materials to naturally talk to one another, welding helps mediate. The use of color especially tends to stretch and streamline form. Even her most parred down pieces evoke a certain flow and energy.
Dori shows me a sculpture of mixed metal with a sliding glass window that has significance. The glass is rose, and when you slide one pane over the other– its pink deepens. She thinks a couch should accompany it. Maybe also a performance element. She is still gathering her thoughts.
“I can’t believe you welded this.” I say. “I thought this was just a found object. Did you weld it in here?”
“No, I used a community welding place- Molten Metal Works.”
“How did you learn how to weld?” I touch the cool white frame.
“This musician dude from Seattle. He was living here for a bit. He has a house here. I went to see him play a show and the conversation afterwards led to the gig. He was a friend of a friend at that point. He worked out of a car shop in Burbank and was making these punk rock crazy race cars– I don’t know what the name for them would be. I think he used to take them to car shows and he was like the punk rock one. They were goofy. We would chop off parts and reuse in unexpected ways. It was like totally cray and silly for cars and then he’d put a giant motor in it.”
This feels so much like Dori– adventurous, ready to learn by doing, by immersion.
Looking around, I think her studio reflects a similar ideology. She runs on instinct and lets her visual and tactile interests lead. Logic will always naturally follow. The logic is organic.
As an artist, sometimes I feel a need to know exactly what I am doing (and why) as I am doing it. I don’t want to be wasteful or illogical– but making art so rarely works that way. Sometimes, we need to enjoy the mess and play– otherwise, nothing new emerges. The element of surprise is important.
Looking at Dori’s work and hearing her talk about process, reminds me to trust my own seemingly erratic impulses– to know that they are not always erratic, just beholden to another story bubbling below. We need that other story– the one that moves our hands automatically, the one that doesn’t make sense in the moment of making. Art is not just about bravery, but trust. This trust is personal, emotional. It’s about knowing yourself.
On the way out, I see a photograph of Dori’s work in the natural world: three pedestals surrounded by foliage. The art is not what you’re looking at or why you’re looking. It’s about how you’re looking through.
Dori Scherer was born in Seattle, WA, studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles.