IN THREE DIMENSIONS
The Paintings of Tom
BROOKLYN BRICK. Oil on Canvas with bricks. 1998.
10' x 4'
I was in second grade the teacher took us all to the library one
I saw an oversize book on the
top shelf. I had noticed it for several weeks but because it was
so high up I could never reach it. That day I climbed up the shelves
and took the book down. I sat on the floor in the corner with a
book almost as big as myself. I began turning the pages and just
stared at the pictures. I thought only a couple of minutes had gone
by but twenty minutes or more had passed and my class had returned
to the classroom. I sat there transfixed by the most beautiful things
I had ever seen. The teacher returned to find me sitting with that
oversized book in my lap. The pictures were photographs of Michelangelo's
Sistine Chapel. I think that that was the moment I knew I had to
be an artist. Something inside me wanted to make a statement as
powerful as those paintings.
a child growing up in Minnesota
I developed juvenile arthritis and an illness which affected my
intestines. After a number of surgeries, most of my intestines were
removed and I was left with an ileostomy.
So I have been "disabled" for most of my life. Nevertheless, I have
never liked that word"disability."
It pigeonholes people. Doesn't everyone have a disadvantage they
must confront, whether it's physical, emotional, psychological,
cultural, or economic?
SEDUCTIVE STILL LIFE-LUV FRUIT. 1998.
Oil on Canvas. 5' x 3'
physical condition has motivated me
to do things I might not have done. It has made me a stronger
person because I have learned not to let what I cannot do define
what I can do. My physical being is a small part of a many-faceted
being. It is just one part of the whole of who I amand I like
who I am. My sexual preference, like my physical self, is only a
part of who I am, a part that exists as a very personal thing between
me and a partner. It has always seemed natural for me to approach
friendships in the same way. If the whole person displays qualities
that are enduring, the rest seems to fall into place. By focusing
on "wholeness" I have met innumerable supportive, exciting and interesting
BLACK BOWL. 1999. Oil
on canvas. 5' x 2.5'
since graduate school at Pratt Institute
I have lived in Brooklyn, New York. My paintings, some inspired
by the city, are three-dimensional shaped canvases that explore
ideas and imagery associated with still life and landscapes. I incorporate
floor- as well as wall-space in my compositions; it's a format that
I believe draws the viewer more closely into the picture plane.
Shaped canvases represent my desire to escape from the confinement
of the traditional square and rectangle. The canvas itself has qualities
I want to investigate, too, as I cut, mold or stretch it into untraditional
BROKEN DREAMS. 1999. Oil on canvas. 5' x 3'
discovered that I do not feel the need
to relate the images in my paintings to one another in a logical
manner. I will use forced perspective or objects with different
perspectives in the same composition. It is the shape of these images
and their relationship to one another that concerns me. Humor is
a big part of my personality and it can play an important part in
my paintings, too. I hope you will see the humor as well as the
seriousness in my work. To me, it is all part of the wholeness I
talked about earlier.
SATED. 1999. Oil on
canvas. 4.5' x 3'
I was eighteen I was hospitalized in pretty bad shape.
The prognosis was grim and surgery was
ordered. In fact, I had deteriorated so much it seemed likely I
might not survive. After the surgery my body refused to tolerate
what had been done to it. I went into shock and things started to
shut down: my kidneys, my pancreas, pretty much my entire immune
system. I began to bleed internally. You hear people who have had
a Near Death Experience recall looking down a long dark passageway
with a white light glowing from the far end beckoning them forward.
That was the experience I had. I remember
that as I was lying in that state, aware of my condition and what
seemed inevitable, I made a clear statement to myself: "I CAN'T
DIE. I HAVEN'T SEEN THE SISTINE CHAPEL." I believe that is one of
the reasons I survived.
When I look back at that incident now,
and I do often, I laugh sometimes. It seems so silly. But that is
the connection I draw between art and life.
DEAD OF NIGHT. 1998. Oil on canvas. 8' x 5'
"The images in my
landscape paintings are derived from my experience living in a large
metropolis. In some of my paintings I strive for a theatrical effect
that utilizes both wall and floor areas. I make no attempt to create
idyllic, serene, or realistic depictions of the city."
Text and Paintings © 2000 Tom Schneider