Arts and Humanities
11:07 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Remixing Childhood: Louisville Artist Scott Scarboro Explores Fragments of Memory

Digital still from "Slee Stack," hand-glitched video.
Credit Scott Scarboro

  Louisville artist Scott Scarboro focuses on artifacts, fragments, memories and icons from his childhood in his new exhibit “Glitches From the Memory Bank.” The show, which opens Friday at The Green Building and runs through July 4, consists of videos, mixed media sculptures and machine-stitched wall hangings.

WFPL’s Ashlie Stevens discussed this new body of work with the artist.

Your bio states that you are a "non-folk artist who nonetheless has participated in folk art shows and festivals,” and you’ve been the driving force behind organizing recent Good Folk Fest events in Louisville. What is your own artistic work’s relationship with folk art?

I enjoy the aesthetics and passion of folk art, outsider art, native, or whatever you want to call it. I like to see the artist's hand in creation. Blemishes and goofs add character. I have been around folk artists, visited art environments and revel in that driving force. I like to see the mind at work through the hands, the meditation through process. 

In my work I accept the mistake as an opportunity to embellish, to hitch a ride in another direction. Sometimes I eliminate or trim. With my approach and aesthetics, the folk art world is where I feel comfortable.  I am attracted to re-using materials. Coming from a long line of resourceful folk, nothing is really ever truly ready to be put out to pasture quite yet. I like finding new lives for things. 

Scott Scarboro's "Working Wonders."

"Ali Centaur," plastic Muhammad Ali boxing puppet head, resin cast from horse model, embedded rubbish from bottom of the toy box, LEDs.
Credit Scott Scarboro

For this exhibit, “Glitches From the Memory Bank,” you've taken elements from your childhood and altered them. For example, there are video clips with intentional glitching, and fragments of children's toys that have been pieced together into mixed-media sculptures. What do these modifications represent?

With this new body of work I am revisiting fragments of memories, stuff that is a part of me.  There are so many, and not enough time to touch on them all, so these are just the ones that came to the surface first.

I believe that every object has a meaning; a point of reference to our lives, an association, a reflection, a memory. Some have smells. Some have textures that are strong when you hold them in your hands.

Memory is really in the skin.

The glitched videos are like memories to me, not quite clear any more, embellished, colorized, not always perfect, perhaps stuck on repeat. But they evoke a feeling; perhaps of dread, longing, dream, or fantasy. The sounds and video work hand-in-hand with emotions. When an image is slowed down, importance is brought to that given moment in time.

Were there any favorite personal memories that came up from sorting through your childhood toy box? 

When digging through the toy box, attic and closet, while reacquainting myself with these items, many connections and sparks were present.  One thing that struck me, however, was how hard I was on things. I was hard-pressed to find a whole anything.  It was like a bomb went off, and over time things got separated from other things, and it all dissolved into a heap of parts.  I did love to take things apart as a kid—always curious to see how things worked. Still am, still do.

"6 mil hatchling,"plastic Easter egg, feathers, unmounted photo slides, The Six Million Dollar Man doll, odds and ends, light bulb.
Credit Scott Scarboro

I found a lot of plastic car model parts. Once my brother and I lined up all of his car models, made a ramp, and had my Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle jump over them.

I am also working with some home movies that my father made. One in particular was when I was a wee tot feeding the ducks at Cave Hill (Cemetery) and my father is holding me, loving on me. Gut-wrenchingly sweet.

“Glitches From the Memory Bank” features art from various media -- videos, sculptures, wall hangings. What do you see as the unifying thread or theme through this collection? 

As far as an underlying thread, on the surface, “Glitches From the Memory Bank looks like a group exhibition of five to six artists. But once explored, the things I have mentioned here hopefully hold it together: the work of the hand, materials, images and memories.

“Glitches From the Memory Bank” opens Friday, with a reception Saturday evening, at The Green Building (732 E. Market St.).