Artist-in-residency program not working out for Warren Wilson, chainsaw artist
WARREN WILSON, MONDAY — Faculty, staff and students of Warren Wilson College have complained about a rising number of wooden bears on campus as well as excessive noise levels, and many are blaming chainsaw artist Scott Dee, who was recently awarded a residency by the school’s art department.
An administrative decision, made on Friday, to prematurely end Dee’s residency may be upsetting to Dee, said one faculty member, since Dee has the “artistic temperament of a Van Gogh and the tree-trunk arms of an ambitious minor league baseball player.”
Members of the arts department say they will inform Dee of the program’s desire to end its association with him as soon as the artist “runs out of gasoline.”
Dee describes himself in an “artist’s statement of purpose” as “WNC’s premier avantgarde chainsaw performance artist” whose work “is a statement on the failures of this nation’s failed mental health care system, as well as a tactile exploration into the symbolic and real boundaries of the wooden bear.”
“Whereas you see a block of wood, I see a bear with rounded shoulders and tuckedin, rounded knees and a taciturn expression,” said Dee. “However, my bears do not simply smile. They ever so slightly frown. Really more with their eyes. Their mouths are, in fact, smiling.”
The artist-in-residency program, which provides a stipend and workspace to a selected artist twice a year, also requires the artist to guest-lecture at the Holden Visual Arts Center several times throughout the semester.
Dee’s lectures, according to complaints, cannot be heard above his open throttled chainsaw. The artist also refuses to lecture in Holden Gallery and “insists on conducting his lectures in random classrooms at unannounced times well outside of the art department,” according to one complaint.
Additionally, he concluded one such impromptu lecture in a classroom full of “stunned” political science students by turning the podium into “a little bear, with rounded shoulders, notched ears and inlay whiskers,” according to another complaint, this one made on artistic grounds.
Many students and faculty members were upset by the appearance on campus of four carved bears, “with sloping shoulders and block-like paws,” huddled around a carved Indian chief wearing a headdress. The installation sits on the previous location of what was a healthy 250-year-old white oak tree.
“I’m scouting around the River District for a nice little property to pursue my dream,” said Dee. “Downstairs, a funky but swanky little gallery. Upstairs, chainsaw artists’ colony.”
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Until then, asst. mgr. will continue cleaning glory hole every morning