Studio Visit with Vincent Stemmler

Written by Catherine Leberg

Studio visits are easily the most casual way to get to know an artist and their art. Outside of a gallery setting, and with one on one access to the artist, it’s not really an interview, not really an artist talk, and yet more than a conversation. It’s fluid, a give and take, an organic development of thoughts that’s difficult to trace from beginning to end.

Vincent Stemmler’s art is organic in this way. Some parts collage, other classic sculpture, found objects and social practice. Stemmler’s most recent work focuses heavily on ceramics, but bending and pushing ceramics past their perceived traditional limits. He prefers the fluidity if handbuilding over the structure of the wheel, and the way this method allows you to basically sketch upwards and out. Many of his pieces reference the occult, resembling the products or tools of some dark ritual. After collecting a variety of angel figurines and saccharine humboldt statues, he cast bits and pieces, faces, arms, wings, and their little faces peer out from the nooks and crannies of his sculpture.

In this way Stemmler combines old and new, combining his work inextricably with the little treasures, the little found pieces of the city. At the core of it, his work, in all its different iterations, is about St. Louis. From the tiny angel faces, to broken bits of bus stop glass spiking out across surfaces Vincent’s work is an homage to the city, a collection of its artifacts, that call attention to parts of it that get overlooked. In his studio is a huge sack of the
aforementioned bus shelter glass, that he gathers whenever he sees it left broken on the ground. Stemmler thinks about St. Louis a lot. Our conversation trailed away from his work, and to the city, its problems, its relationship to power, and how art interacts and exists within these issues. And while Stemmler is always considering the city, it is so clearly a part of the collage and conversation that is his art.