Scout Dunbar, Visual Artist
Trail running, hiking, sudoku, latch-hook rug making
What is your art practice, and how did you first get into making art?
My art practice is comprised of a number of things. I love experimenting with different conventional and unconventional materials and processes -- paint, yarn, sand, paper, ink -- anything that sparks curiosity. Each piece reveals itself over the duration of its completion. It’s about asking questions and finding the answers through the act of making.
Junior year of high school was when I really got into art. I had been secretly making work for a year prior, but my head wasn’t on straight and I was more concerned with what my friends would think than what was right for me. Eventually I let that go and suddenly I was spending all of my free time in the art studio. I really found my true self there. I come from a family of artists. I’m lucky to be the third generation of female artists on my mom’s side. I think our lineage has been a guiding force for my commitment to art-making and I am forever grateful for my family.
What's your favorite thing about your work?
My process is very trial-and-error based. This has served as a really important and eye-opening metaphor for life. My process is teaching me how to be flexible and adaptable to the unknown. It’s showing me how to find beauty and opportunity in the mistakes I make. By working this way, I think my work feels very honest, personal, and thoughtful.
What do your days look like?
Lately, my days have been looking pretty great. I’m a morning person, so I typically get up around 6 or 7, make some tea and breakfast, and get straight to work in the studio. I have a part-time job working at an aftercare program so I usually work on art until about 2 pm and then head to my other job. I get really excited around 9 am when my roomie wakes up because he’s been in a bullet-proof coffee kick and always saves me some :)
What are your future visions for your career? What are some dream projects you'd like to work on?
When I daydream about my career, I imagine a life where I am supporting myself purely on my work. Financial independence is really important to me, as is spending my life doing what makes me happy. I’d really like to bridge these two needs. I expect this to always be a struggle, but I am becoming more hopeful in it becoming a reality.
My list of dream projects continually grows. My mother is also an artist, and I’d really love to work with her again to create a mother-daughter installation piece. I also hope to one day create a mural in my hometown, Ithaca, New York. That place has a real grip on my heart and I want to contribute to their public art scene.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work and business?
I struggle most with viewing art-making as a business. I tip my hat to my University for that huge downfall in their approach to teaching. Making art and selling art are two separate beasts that I’m now trying to converge. Getting advice adds to the stress sometimes because everyone has different ideas on the right way of going about it. Through this process I’m trying to be openminded and non-self judging, to view it as an interesting component of what it means to be an artist.
What advice can you give to budding artists in Santa Fe?
Just make work! Keep going and don’t linger too long on thinking about whether or not you’re good. In the beginning, and hopefully throughout the entirety of one’s career, making work is about exploration and discovery. Make a lot of bad art, and eventually you’ll make something that feels good. And NEVER expect the piece your working on to be the best you’ll ever make. In terms of being an artist specifically in Santa Fe, I’d say work on balancing your studio life with community engagement. There’s a great network of people here, and one of the most supportive communities I’ve lived in. Get to know other makers and your world will begin opening up.
Why did you decide to move to Santa Fe?
I was living in New York City and needed a break. I also needed nature. A best friend from college was here and hooked me up with a house sitting gig so I decided to try it out. All of a sudden I was on a plane with two bags and I haven’t left yet!
What makes Santa Fe special to you? What is/are your favorite thing(s) about this place?
The license plates first caught my eye. Then the mountains. Then the people and architecture and then the strange feeling that despite any hardship and uncertainty, things were going to be okay.
If you could change one thing about Santa Fe, what would it be?
I would also say that I make at least 3-5 U-turns a day here, so maybe the city planners could design more effective traffic patterns?
What are you passionate about outside of art and design?
I’ve always been passionate about being in nature and hiking. Most recently I’ve developed a love for trail running. I’m also very passionate about my friendships. Connecting with people is very important to me and I love so many people in my life. Developing hobbies outside of my practice has been tricky, as time is a precious commodity. This year I hope to explore archery as a possible hobby!
At the end of the day, why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because it’s a part of who I am. I’ve tried not making art and it didn’t work. I view it as a curse sometimes and I often wish I could be content working in another field. But making things with my hands feels like the only path that brings me a life of satisfaction and purpose.