Artist Drew Schnierow of Sausalito, CA’s Das Art transforms natural stone into dynamic sculptures of glowing light.
Schnierow: I discovered honeycomb onyx when I was [part of] an art collective in Santa Monica, CA. Some [fellow artists] were working with red alabaster. I put a piece up to the sun, and I knew that I was going to make illuminated stone sculptures. It was an amazing discovery. Everything I had been doing up to that point was opaque. Finding honeycomb onyx was finding the perfect match for me.
I also work in translucent alabaster, certain soap stones and opaque stones. I mix and match, and form relationships between translucent stones and opaque stones so that I can get a strong play between textures and color, and light and shadow. I start with a design idea, sketch something, and refine it in drawings or models. Then, I’ll start thinking about which material will be best [to translate] the idea.
I’m pretty much self-taught. One of my favorite architects influencing my design philosophy is Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Isamu Noguchi influences me, too. Other sources of inspiration are the human female body form and its dynamic curves. I draw inspiration from the shape and movement of clouds, crashing waves and fire. A lot of my work reflects sea life, coral, sea shells, but it’s abstracted. I want to [capture] the essence of things.
A lot of artwork fades into the background, but I like using light in relationship with form to make an object come alive. You can’t help but notice its presence when you are in the room. [In terms of] size and scale, my pieces are mostly tabletop, but I’m working on some commissions for pieces that will be about 3 feet tall. I am also planning to work with water and waterfalls, and I have some preliminary drawings for creating bronzes. Imagine a kind of “tornado of fire” made of bronze with simplified, translucent stone light set inside of the bronze.
I get the sense that more people want organic, one-of-a-kind pieces. It’s a movement toward getting connected to our earth in our design sensibility. I’m thrilled and excited about it. The robust long-term trend will be dwellings and homes that fit into their environments and commune with the earth, and I’d love to be, through my work, a strong voice in that movement.