Dan Schimmel


Dan Schimmel, BFA (1989) University of California, Berkeley, MA (1996) and MFA (1997) University of Iowa, is an artist based in Philadelphia and born in Columbia, Missouri. His mixed-media work oscillates between painting and sculpture, constantly grafting the two together. This series of recombinant sculptural assemblages incarnate new landscapes layered out of the elements of both natural and manmade processes. Moving of their own accord, they seem to creep toward you, subtly activated by air currents and optical oscillations. Their re-animation of waste suggests an elegy for throwaway post-empire America. They also inform the speculative fiction piece ‘Janderz Aix’, published in the second issue of Geohumanities.

Artist Statement

Entropy is a generative force in my work. I chop and splice my creative efforts into parts and pieces that drift and entangle in unexpected combinations. I describe my process as recombinant and draw loose analogy to the gene editing tool, CRISPR. I try to subvert media rather than mix it. Art as mutation.

My main material stream is powered by gravity, that which falls to the floor. Sweeping my studio is a meditative practice. I collect and channel what is normally considered detritus, disregarded, and unused, into a creative process that is about cycling material rather than recycling.

I cultivate a native kinetic energy in my materials rendering the work sensitive to air turbulence and subtle vibrations in the environment. Slight disturbances trigger jittery movements in work, animating the inanimate. Patches of Lichen living on organic matter change color from dry pale ale to frilly alpine green depending on the moisture content in the atmosphere.

The dust in my studio is a holographic grit made up of very fine, irregular bits of everything: sawdust, paint flecks and palette scrapings, glitter, wire clippings, mold, nicks of paper and used masking tape. The dust is elemental, a micro-aggregate that I use as flocking. I also mix it with hot glue and silicon to render a workable grout or binder.

Mixing and cycling materials as I do, the studio becomes a suspension; its space is the medium. I aspire to operate like a free radical electron, unbound and scaling: parts of new work mix with old, materials collide, shatter, drift in a sweep of physical and creative currents, a general state of advection and dispersion influences my moves. The art is what precipitates out.


Dan Schimmel’s work was published in the December 2015 issue of GeoHumanities

Schimmel, Dan and Mimi Sheller. 2015. “Janderz Aix.” GeoHumanities, 1(2): 442-456. DOI: 10.1080/2373566X.2015.1093523.

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