Scott Streadbeck is a sculptor and comes from a family of sculptors and artists. Streadbeck explains about his relationship to the art, “The bronze foundry itself has had a tremendous influence on me. My first glimpse of the glowing furnace and its overwhelming heat are still vivid in my mind.” His works are often emotional like the commission (above) for the Lehi, Utah Infant Cemetery. He lives in Utah.
Sculpture is the family business. Tell us about your evolution as an artist. I grew up around the sculpture industry. I always admired my uncle’s sculptures of Native American Dancers that we had around the house. My father was my uncle’s agent for a number of years. My father is also partners with another uncle in the bronze casting business. As a child we had clay around the house but I never did much with it. My first real interest in art started in junior and senior high. I loved my art elective classes and always took as many as I could. My high school had great ceramics classes where you could work in wet clay and throw pots. Another favorite were my photography classes. It was in the days of film so we would walk through campus snapping photos and return to the dark room to develop what we had shot. These classes gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I am often asked when I fell in love with sculpture and knew that was my career path. It wasn’t really just sculpture I fell in love with. My true love is the creative process. I love taking a medium, in any unorganized form, and giving it shape, form, color, and—ultimately—personal meaning. This is where my heart truly belongs.
I took my first real sculpture class in college. I seemed to have some natural ability with it and knew that with my family’s involvement in the bronze sculpture world I would have a foot in the door into a viable art career path. I decided to make sculpture my medium of choice and graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. Since graduation I have worked full-time as a freelance sculptor. My work has focused on the human figure. I feel it is one of the most difficult subjects to master. I know that I am far from mastering it anytime soon. The human figure is so complex and beautiful. So much narrative can be found with careful gesture choices and subtly sculpted expressions.
Tell us about the process for creating a new commission. The key to a successful commission for me is working on multiple sizes. I start very small and work in wax and do simple gesture sketches. I do not worry about detail of any sort and just focus on movement, design and balance. This may be the most important step. If the gesture does not work in small scale it will not work big. From there I work up a medium sized maquette, usually less than 24 inches. This is where I finalize the design and general details. The armature and sculpture are easy to manipulate at that size and make adjustments and refinements easier to accomplish than if I were working life-size. From there I start the life-size version. If I did the first two steps well the life-size version is mostly focusing on refining the small details of the piece.
The Church has some sculpture at Temple Square and a few other places, but it is not as prominent in chapels and temples. How would you like to see sculpture in the Church? I would love to see more of it! I was part of the team that helped get the new sculpture in front of the Provo City Center Temple (below). I think that sculpture, by Dennis Smith, will hopefully be a positive catalyst to have more sculpture at chapels and temples.
What is next for you and your career? I am fortunate to be working on a life-size pioneer family sculpture commissioned by the city of Lehi, Utah. I am one of many Latter-day Saints with pioneer heritage so it’s an honor to be working on this project. I will also be working on a sculpture for the new Family Search headquarters of the church. The design hasn’t been finalized yet but it will be of a modern Latter-day Saint family. I am also working on a few private commissions of various children at play. I am so fortunate to have so much work to do. Luckily it is a problem you always hope to have as an artist.