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Kent State School of Art Downtown Gallery Opens Steady As She Goes, Jan. 11

Posted Jan. 9, 2012

Artist, Professor Mark Schatz creates metaphoric landscapes on sculpted polystyrene foam

enter photo description
Artist Mark Schatz showcases his metaphoric landscapes
art in his exhibit Steady As She Goes at the Kent State
Downtown Gallery, Jan. 11 – Feb. 11.

Photo Credit: Mark Schatz

The Kent State School of Art’s Downtown Gallery will present the exhibit Steady As She Goes, featuring artist Mark Schatz, from Jan. 11 to
Feb. 11
. An opening reception, free and open to the public, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 5 – 7 p.m. The Downtown Gallery is located at 141 E. Main Street in Kent.

Schatz is assistant professor and foundations program coordinator in the School of Art at Kent State University. His exhibit focuses on the theme of seeking stability in an unstable world. In this exhibition, lush and familiar landscapes float or balance precariously on ice floes.

“The major pieces in Steady As She Goes are miniature fragments of what could be the Midwest – sprawling neighborhoods, hilltop radio towers, distant cities – all set adrift on icebergs, which are beautiful but also serve as this elegant metaphor for a landscape that seems fixed but is always shifting and changing with time,” says Schatz.

The “ice” is made from expanded polystyrene foam, or EPS. EPS is almost exclusively used to create stability and as coolers and insulation, providing a stable temperature or custom forms designed to hold merchandise of all sorts in a stable position for shipping or storage. Though designed for stasis, the material is also expendable and ephemeral, typically being thrown away after one use where it is again disastrously stable, remaining unchanged in landfills for untold centuries.

To create the forms, Schatz customized a hot-wire tool that runs current through a metal wire, allowing it to heat up and melt through the foam like butter, resulting in both fantastically organic forms and a blue-grey smoke containing cyanide gas. Besides the tensions of stability and instability, EPS’s environmental impact and the toxic gasses it releases contain the unseen and unintended consequences of humanity’s double-edged progress.

“Since Steady as She Goes is a nautical term for holding course, particularly through rough waters, it struck me as funny to have a nautical theme for a geologically-themed body of work. I liked thinking of these landscapes as ships lost at sea, hoping that if they just point in one direction and hold tight they will eventually find their way,” Schatz says.

Schatz earned a master’s in sculpture from the University of Texas-Austin and a B.F.A in sculpture from the University of Michigan.

For more information, visit or call 330-676-1549.