OTA interviews Chad Manley featured in Beginnings III

1.What inspires/drives you in your creative pursuit?

Curiosity is first and foremost the engine that drives all good things in my life. Out of curiosity is formed the desire for diversified problem-solving in my creative work. Diversified problem-solving in any field of work or endeavor is really all anyone can ask for. For me the vast ocean of forms and ideas that lays untapped and yet to be discovered drives my process forever forward. I work hard to incorporate this curiosity into every detail of my work no matter how mundane a task may seem.

I am at my core a hunter-gatherer, a farmer and industrialist both in the studio and in my life. I am constantly gathering materials and in them hunting for forms hidden in the materials and true to the materials I gather. Patiently tending and nurturing these forms as they develop, weeding out what doesn’t belong, observing their growth and maturity with time. Oddly all this tender care happens within a darkly industrial world that I’ve created for myself. The machines I surround myself with are paradoxically and simultaneously violent yet meditative. These seemingly disparate elements of my work create a peaceful whole that hopefully shows in the work.

2. Was there anyone pivotal in your becoming an artist and pursuing your creative journey? When was this?

I owe my being an artist principally to my mother in so many ways. I was born a artist/fabricator- lock stock and two smoking barrels. I never saw that I had a choice in that but it was my mom who realized it before I had words for what I was. Growing up in and going to school in Pecos, the educators there saw fit to place me in their newly minted special education program where I was made to repetitively write math equations and spell words over and over thousands of times on massive chalkboards in an empty classroom set aside for the purpose… day after day week after week, all to no avail. In the process we (me and one other kid) must have burned through a not insignificant portion of the programs budget just in boxes and boxes of chalk. Dyslexia was not a known concept to the basket ball coach who was, with no qualifications tasked to run the “special education program”, which was really just charged with taking “slow kids” out of the classroom. After trying to fight this course of actions my mom finally just took me out of school and taught me how read, write and do my math in her own intuitive way. She then found me apprenticeships with an array of amazing and renowned artists. To this end, I’m eternally grateful. It was in these various studios that I flourished. At home we turned our small two room house into a fabulous studio and workshop. As poor as we were I wanted for nothing in tools and material. My mom regularly would take me to Artisans Art Supplies back when it was up on Canyon Road in Santa Fe and she would happily spend as much as a third of our monthly food budget on art supplies as well as take us to all the galleries and cultural events Santa Fe had to offer. Thanks mom.

3.What do you want to say to the world or what message do you want to give to the world?

I hope and believe that by making objects that exist outside the box of “normal”, I will entice the world around me and the people who live with these objects, to think outside the box in whatever they do and make their lives extraordinary. In this effort to make a world unique and interesting. I know that I am but one drop of rain on the surface of the pond but along with all the other creative minds I see around me today, it feels like the surface of a pond when one hundred thousand drops of rain come crashing down. It’s a beautiful thing to behold and that’s the world I want to live in.

4. What advice can you give to those starting on the creative journey.

As I’m always, each day, just starting on the creative journey myself, I try to:

Listen and protect the small voices in yourself and in the world around you.

I try to be organized. Creativity is inherently a messy, risky venture and careful methodical organization is the common factor I can see in the older artists that have survived long enough to see their work mature.

Build a web of creative minds and hearts that you trust to share both your successes and failures. Protect and defend those creative minds within your web that you love and trust; but be honest with yourself and those around you. A strong web is one that can stand the light of day. I hunger for people who show me my failings and ask that I shine a light on theirs, with love. It has been my experience that this is how to make good art and a strong creative web.

I find that in an age when everything that has ever been made anywhere in the world is at your fingertips that many young artists will stop making art as they think that everything could be done has already “been done“. This artist ego is a senseless and debilitating myth. I’m trying to teach my children that if they walk in the path of another artist that in time that path will become theirs and in time some young artist or thinker will walk in their footsteps.

Thank you Chad for sharing with OTA.