Melancholy Comfort: the Art of Scott Radke
Deep in the wooded sanctuaries outside of Cleveland, OH, creatures are stirring. Despite their gnarled fingers, sunken eyes, and otherworldly appearance, they silently approach with peaceful intentions. Nymph-like, forest witches and hybrid animal-human creatures flourish in the forests, clothed in burlap and adorned in feathers and swirls. These transcendent beings brought to life by artist Scott Radke don’t inspire fear but instead draw you in, providing a sort of melancholy comfort in their simultaneously youthful and ancient expressions.
Scott has been creative since his youth, with his earliest memories of art being drawing four-winged birds around the age of six. This evolved into other art forms as an adult, including sidewalk art at festivals, impermanent sand sculptures at the beach, and photography. As a kid he spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors, and had many pets – nature and animal elements subsequently entered his visual vocabulary, pairing with his subconscious imagery that led him to his current body of work.
The marionette-like sculptures were initially created as a method of therapeutic peacefulness away from anxiety and panic attacks, displacing his unease with the world with quiet serenity. The birth of his creatures begins with finding a serene moment; soon, a face develops, and they grow from there. Wire armatures give way to limbs, tails, and ears; bodies are shaped in clay or covered in burlap; faces are painted, and branches form woodland crowns. Scott has expressed that he never quite felt at home with just one medium, but combining them all together resulted in the perfect mixture.
“The creatures are from no specific time or place. A lot of what I do is like daydreaming. If you’re a writer, I imagine you would daydream in stories and words, but mine are more image oriented – shapes, colors, animals, faces, and textures. I just clump them all together and add and subtract along the way until something feels balanced and complete.”
Not only is he skilled at combining multiple media into one, but Scott is quite gifted with photography as well, capturing his completed sculptures in their “natural environments.” His website and social media accounts are full of beautiful photos of his sculpture in mossy groves, muddy marshlands, or snowy embankments. Birds and bats appear perched in trees or hanging from branches.
His fantastic sculpts have garnered attention from many, have been featured in films including Voices In My Head, a BBC documentary; the film Desolation Sound; Birthday Massacre’s music video for their song Blue; and even contributed to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, to name a few.