Published: May 11, 2013
Bahamian artist and educator Heino Schmid answers Arts & Culture’s 20 Questions this week.
1. What’s been your most inspirational moment in the last five years?
This is ongoing; I don’t think the general public understands how easy it sometimes is to abandon an artwork, not abandon art, that’s something else entirely, but to scrap a work that’s not going well. My favorite thing teaching at The College of The Bahamas is when students invest themselves in their work and follow through to the end with a project. There has been a lot of that in the past two years and I find that really motivational. These guys don’t realize it but the best of them really keep me honest.
2. What’s your least favorite piece of artwork?
It’s always the last thing I finished the day after I've finished it.
3. What’s your favorite period of art history?
I have two answers here. One, is the cave paintings of the Paleolithic. I just think they are the best examples of man’s innate urge for visual expression. It is easy to get distracted by the business of contemporary art but the wall paintings from Lascaux, Altimira and others which date back 20,000 years and more come from a very human urge for expression. That need kids have to put pigment on their hands then to put it on a surface ties right back to early man and I think that is wonderful.
Two, is the art being produced now. There is a lot of foolishness in contemporary art but there has never been a point in art history with so much opportunity for interdisciplinary practice and such cross-pollination of ideas and aesthetics. I think that too is wonderful.
4. What are your top 5 movies of all time?
In no order,
1. The first 21 minutes of “Inglourious Basterds”, the whole movie’s great, but the first chapter is amazing.
2. “Let The Right One In”, the original Swedish version, it’s such an odd love story.
3. “Stranger Than Fiction”, the protagonist is a watch, amazing!
4. “Barton Fink” I’m still trying to decipher the symbolism behind the slowly
5. “Rebecca”. This is Hitchcock’s best, I’ve seen it 20 times.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening… I’m very colonial that way.
What book are you reading now?
“The Master of Petersburg” by J. M. Coetzee. This is the third time for me, that book is a masterpiece, Coetzee distills all these epic human experiences into simple human interactions. Also, I just finished Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle”, it’s very surreal but really good. It’s like someone telling you about a really long dream they had and it actually being interesting.
What project are you working on now?
I’m putting the finishing touches on my entry for the NE6 at the National Art Gallery; that entire show I think is going to be very exciting. I’m watching other people install their work as well and most artists are really pushing themselves and their work in interesting ways.
What’s the last show that surprised you?
This is a tie. I taught an Intermediate Drawing class at The College of The Bahamas for the first time at the beginning of the year and asked them to put together an exhibition as their final critique, and the show, which was called 360, really blew my mind. This ties in directly with question 1.
Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots?
I like the scrap groups.
If you had to be stranded on one Family Island which one would it be?
Crooked Island. Mosquitos as big as your head but that is some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen… sorry Exuma.
What’s the most memorable artwork you’ve ever seen?
About 10 years ago I saw this work, which was simply a world map crumpled into a ball sitting on a black wooden table. I don’t remember the artist or the title and it’s not even my favorite artwork but it really left an impression on me. It’s hard to describe but by simply crushing the world map, it realigned geographical boundaries and created a new planet of sorts and the black wooden table became a new universe. The gesture was as simple as you can imagine and easily dismissed at first glance but when you got it, the work was oddly affecting.
Which artist do you have a secret crush on?
Kiki Smith. Witches are hot!
If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?
Tom Waits. I listen a lot to him in the studio. His music is so polar, I would just be interested to see if he’d eat meat straight from a bone with his hands or order a spinach salad instead.
Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country’s history?
A really tough question and I don’t have an answer, I think the people who do all the heavy lifting in this country are the ones we’ll never hear about.
Who is your favorite living artist?
Kendall Hanna, he’s in his mid-seventies, he’s wrestled with his share of demons but his work has never suffered as far as I can tell. That’s incredible to me. A few weeks ago he was reading an art magazine and I jokingly asked him if he was doing research and he looks down at me and with a straight face says, “It’s like Napoleon said ‘you can’t win a war on a empty stomach’,” and goes back to his reading. Who quotes Napoleon first thing in the morning?
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunrises. I’m not an early bird so I see less of these.
What role does the artist have in society?
To be honest.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I’m super awkward so I block these out, otherwise I'd get nothing done.
What wouldn’t you do without?
I’m really lucky to have three or four really good friends who have become my family. Having people you count on, really count on, is a gift.
What’s your definition of beauty?
My wife getting dressed in the morning.