Scott McNeill, “Multidimensional Magic,” 2002





Multidimensional Magic

Sculptor carves career through use of color

Dec. 20, 2002 - ARIZONA REPUBLIC

By Oriana Parker

     The exhibit of award-winning sculptor Scott McNeill’s painted bas-reliefs consists of 13 works.  However thanks to the artist’s use of perspective, that figure translates into more than 20 works to enjoy.

     It all depends on where you stand.

     Take a look at the work titled Aqua Boogie, on view at the West Valley Art Museum.  Fifteen to 20 feet away, you see three wildly colorful fish flitting around the water.  Move to with in a few feet of the work and you’ll see an otter, a school of fish, a sea turtle, plants, a whole under-the-sea kingdom.

     McNeill, 33, calls the visual magic “multi-dimensionality.”

     Is McNeill following in the footsteps of Georges Pierre Seurat?  He’s the 19th-century French master who devised pointillism, whereby dots of primary color placed side by side were supposed to mix optically in the viewer’s eye.

     Or perhaps McNeill will become known as another Jackson Pollock.  He’s the American painter who turned the art world on its ear when he created the “spatter” technique, where accidents of paint splashing on canvas created the work.

     “In theory, McNeill’s work is closest to the ideals of cubism or abstract expressionism, where different facets of a subject are interpreted, combined and reconstructed to create a perspective that transcends a solitary point of view,” said David Tooker, curator at the West Valley Art Museum.  “However, McNeill is doing something very different.  In his work, a painting is superimposed and applied directly to the surface of a bas-relief sculpture.”

     The prestigious National Sculpture Society of New York City was impressed by McNeill’s Aqua Boogie.  Last summer, the group gave the Litchfield Park artist the first Dexter Jones Award, which will be presented annually to a young sculptor under the age of 40, for a bas-relief.

     McNeill puts a lot of thought into his work.

     “I am striving for the viewer to realize that multidimensionality is more accurate than singularity,” said the artist, who quotes Nietzsche and discusses quantum physics with equal ease.  “My dream is that some people, while standing in front of one of my sculptures, will be pushed out of ego-centered consciousness and expand into a new awareness of themselves and the universe.”

     Demanding as much as 500 to 800 hours for just one piece, McNeill’s creative process gives new meaning to the term “work intensive.”

     “I draw all of my ideas in sketchbooks and work out the final plan on large sheets of paper,” he said.  “After transferring the design onto the wood, I use a router to eliminate the initial unwanted material.  Then I stand at a carving table, cutting, chipping, and shaving away, day in and day out, until the sculpture is completed.”

     Of course, the reaction of viewers such as Yvette Mooney of San Jose makes this labor worth while.  The California visitor was so impressed she joined the museum.

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