We had the good fortune of connecting with Savannah Stanton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Savannah, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
Passionate. Curious. Gritty. Intense. I have been told I’m a lot. Often. That I dive too deeply, engage with too much intensity. Ask too many questions. Seek too much meaning. This is the reality of my mind, body and soul though — one driven by the pursuit of purpose and realization of goals, regardless of the mountains to be climbed. Someone who revels in an animated conversation between strangers, finds refreshment in a renewed perspective, and looks past the stars for their next adventure. Goals have been ingrained in my DNA for as long as I can remember – as an athlete, academic, artist. I cannot recall a moment where I wasn’t striving for the next “something” just around the corner. Working to improve application of a skill or develop new understanding of a medium or concept. Competitive by nature and highly self-critical, I find I pursue projects that continuously challenge and stretch my capacity. This dynamic environment enables me to stay engaged and invested in the process. The overarching question, however, is tough to define. What is the end goal? I feel as though I’ve just begun carving my trail. Connecting the dots between everything I wish to say in my mind to the visual representation that I may extend to the world’s view for ocular judgement. I don’t believe artists ever truly have an end to their career. Nor do I think an artist must be bound in creative reach by their “primary” medium. Even in death, we know them by their creations. Their “maker’s mark”. Utter their names with reverence or discernment as we gaze upon the remaining parts of themselves and ponder aspects of their inner world with careful scrutiny. That is fascinating to consider. How as an artist I might influence a whole new sect of creatives long after I have set down the chisel and removed my mask. How I might pull from my imagination a visual, textured, experience that touches the senses of another miles away; unlocking a memory, igniting a dream, or stripping away the protective emotional layers. Looking on to the horizon, I have many milestones in my sights. Professionally, I eventually will showcase my art internationally, recognized as a defining artist in the field and using my background in wood science to further guide my experimentation process. Alongside this, I wholeheartedly expect to keep teaching, fusing my passions for learning and creating. In lieu of providing this as a K12 educator, however, it will be specialized workshops dedicated to teaching on the topics of my style of artwork. For withholding aspects of your artistic process will just add to the gatekeeping that already occurs in certain art fields. Your methods and thought processes have come from learning from what has already existed and fusing it with your own pizzazz! Speaking of my artistic style, this is something that is evolving each day, and by the end of my career, I expect to have changed drastically. That, to me, is a sign of true progress and growth as an artist. To allow my art to meld and adapt to the new phases of my lived experiences and ever-altering perspective. Already in my short career I have found my preferred woodturned forms have transformed significantly in response to the environment and circumstances to which I am exposed. I don’t limit my work to solely woodturning or only wall installations, either. I am constantly coming up with new ways to incorporate my organic base materials (wood, fungal pigments, etc.) into new works! At the moment, I am exploring themed collections revolving around abstract concepts, emotions, and visceral experiences rather than specific shapes or “destinations” in my work. Many of my pieces are salvaged and this idea of repurposing and acknowledging the worthwhile in the seemingly mundane tend to be consistent roots in my material sourcing and designs. As a primarily 3D artist, I live in a medium that to this day must jump hurdles to be considered worthy of a fine art title. Unlike painting or drawing, wood-based art often falls under the guise of craft or trade long before society will consider it to be art. This trajectory is closely aligned with the art of ceramicists, as well. As such, I am taking small, deliberate steps to extend further as a creative and reach a point where this is my full-time gig. There is no singular way to reach this future goal, however this year I am taking considerable steps in this direction as a creative. In the “before times” on the precipice of Coronavirus changing the landscape of everyday life, I had been accepted into my county’s art alliance, gaining recognition in the gallery art sphere in my small corner of the world. I am working to develop collections this year that can find temporary homes in local and regional art galleries, juried shows, and exhibits. I also am working to establish my name, face, and art in the ethernet — for as we are all aware, technology has the power to bridge the knowledge gap between communities and individuals of all backgrounds. I am grateful to have established a robust foundation and this summer will mark my second opportunity to apprentice under my major professor, Dr. Seri Robinson (who is a master woodturner themselves & expert in spalting) at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. In summation, I don’t ever want to stop creating, and I think my end goal is to reach that point in my career where I can be a representative female face in a predominantly male dominated medium. A place where I can inspire audiences around the globe to create the “unbuildable” and ideate the “unimaginable”. Hope to see you at a future show!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Hello! My name is Savannah Stanton. I am a wood-based artist born and raised in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, about 45 minutes SW of the major metropolitan hub Portland. But to leave it at that would just be scratching the surface. I am a creative in every aspect of my life, from my 9-5 job as a career technical woodshop instructor for a local high school to my athletic pursuits as a beginner aerialist (think trapeze & lyra!) to my business as a 3D artist. During my undergraduate studies, I majored in Renewable Materials at Oregon State University. This is where I was first exposed to woodturning and other wood-based arts. I am currently back at OSU pursuing my Master’s of Science in Wood Science & Engineering with the goal of co-authoring a technical text for the woodturning community. My many years in a science-informed academic space directly influence my understanding of this artistic medium and has shaped how I have developed my art style. Through my work in a tactile, three-dimensional medium, I have been working to reconstruct social awareness of, and connectivity to, humanity’s cultural and environmental origins, realities, and impending futures. As harmonious human involvement in the natural world ebbs, so does anthropological understanding of the implications of our actions, respectively and globally. Recently, my work has taken a more personal note, pulling from my lived experiences, identities, and interpretations of the space I inhabit. As someone who works in overwhelmingly male-dominated fields, I am acutely aware of how my presence is portrayed. I wish to represent this in some of my collections moving forward. After all, it’s not everyday you walk into a rural high school woodshop course and are met with a 5’7″ young woman as your instructor who runs her own small business as an artist and likes to learn aerial arts and dance in her spare time. My many hats as an independent artist, educator, and science major showcase to my students that there are no limits on what you can pursue if you are passionate about something. The majority of my work to date is created through woodturning — think the wood equivalent of a potter’s wheel — however I also have designed murals, sculptural pieces, and will be working on many more carvings and mosaic concepts this year. My favorite mural currently resides in the conference room of the Benton County United Way location. It is a physical representation of the landscape that this location serves and was created as an intarsia, which has roots back to Europe in the 1400’s! This 5’x6′ mural was crafted my final year of undergrad and is designed using all native or naturalized wood species to the Pacific NW (and some fungal pigment from Elf’s cup fungi)! My work relies heavily on experimentation, risk-taking, and pushing concepts to the breaking point. In pursuing an art career, I have become comfortable living in a state of discomfort and not getting too attached to my design concepts. Artists become intimately aware that the ability to fail is essential to further develop in their craft and my world is no different. I cannot count the number of times that I have had to reassess a concept or walk aware from a destroyed piece after telling myself I just need “one more pass” with a tool. Patience, awareness, and knowing when to stop are vital in this work! A side effect of this career choice is that my pockets and hair are constantly full of wood shavings and the back of my Subaru always has odds and ends of various tree species in transit. They are either headed for a machine or my storage locker, waiting for their turn to tell a tale in my art installations!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So I live in a small college town nestled in the “Heart of Willamette Valley Wine Country” in Oregon. We also have a plethora of microbreweries in our corner of the PNW! As such, it is a MUST to sample the libations from such talented craftspeople behind the cider houses, breweries, and wineries. In my county alone, there are hundreds of wineries to choose from — so everyone can find their favorite spot with a view! (Fun fact, my first job was in hospitality here in wine country!) If you’re only here for a week, we must take a trip up to Portland. A staple when you are visiting the only “big” city in Oregon is to visit the original “hole-in-the-wall” eclectic confectionary: Voodoo Donuts. We’ll need to go on a Saturday though so we can peruse the diverse vendors at the Portland Saturday Market. This is a great way to get a taste of the state, as folks from nearly every country will be representing. Many folks will insist you also visit Salt & Straw for your sweet tooth, but depending on your taste buds you may want to venture to the various food cart lots in the city! You may be able to catch a matinee performance at the Keller Auditorium and stroll the waterfront as well. If you’re into adventure, Oregon will have you covered as well. Regardless of the season, The historic Timberline Lodge at the base of Mt. Hood (Wy’East) is an excellent spot to visit. The iconic, windy Oregon Coast is also just a 90 minute drive west. You can enjoy a pint of local brew at the Pelican Brew Pub in Cape Kiwanda with your toes in the sand (and a windbreaker on) then you can scale the sand dune to take in the view from a higher vantage point. Also on the way to the Coast you can swing by the Tillamook Cheese Factory to sample fresh cheese curds and one of our beloved ice cream brands (Tillamook, of course). You’ll want to invest in a good rain jacket and be willing to embrace the sporadic showers if visiting outside of the summer months, but you better believe the hiking, good food, and west coast adventures will be worth it! There’s something for everyone and nearly everything for the foodie or adventure junkie. Like most places, there is far too much to experience here to try and fit it all in a week, but these would be some good go-to experiences!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my current major professor, Dr. Seri Robinson, who is an accomplished master woodturner in their own right. I first met them my fall term of freshman year as a baby-faced undergraduate at Oregon State University when I enrolled in their course titled “Are You Wearing Mold?”. It was in this introductory course discussing fungal-based pigments, the arts, and the sciences that I realized I might be able to pursue a path of creativity and research. From that term, I transitioned from an undeclared student to someone majoring in Renewable Materials. Without this pivotal course and introduction, I can confidently say I would not be in the field I am today and quite possibly would have never been exposed to a woodturning lathe! Not only that, I wouldn’t be pursuing a Master’s of Wood Science under their direction and getting direct exposure to the fine woodworking industry through apprenticeship opportunities. Outside of the academic arena, I have had the ability to surround myself with folks who support my growth as a human and artist. My friends, both in person and across social media, as well as my family are very supportive of my endeavors as a creative. My sister (a successful financial entrepreneur in her own right) is probably one of my biggest hype people! I would also like to thank Brandon over at 1915 Woodworks for nominating me in the first place to your magazine and organization! Speaking of the power of the internet these days, we connected over TikTok in the woodworking community. Yes… I have TikTok and I have met a wonderful group of inspiring creatives and entrepreneurs also focusing on their dreams. It’s pretty great!

Website: savannahstanton.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/savannah.n.stanton/

Other: TikTok: @savannah.n.stanton

Image Credits
Foundry 503

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