Artists In Their Own Words: Dana Beuhler
Who: Dana Beuhler
What: Sculptor, Painter, and Scenic Artist
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: We were going to meet up at her home studio in New Orleans, but a last minute call to Atlanta, Georgia set the scene for a long-distance interview.
Q: What’s a memory you have that involves a radio?
A: Funny, the one that’s coming to my mind is when I was working on Jurassic World. I was there building a dinosaur skeleton. It was such an amazing project – working with these models from the art department and scaling them to size. It’s a lot of mathematics, and I found that with a dinosaur you had to really pay attention because it had to look accurate.
Ok, so the radio. One of the guys who I was working on the set with would always go into the company van, and he would turn the volume completely up on the radio.
He would put it up as loud as possible, so when people would get into the van at the end of the day, they would turn on the car, and it would blast them with whatever station he had put on high volume. He probably picked the most obnoxious station he could find.
Our labor crew on that set would play a lot of practical jokes, like poking holes in each other’s coke cans, so when you lift it to drink a small stream pours in your lap.
Also, my brother has walkie-talkies, and he makes me use one whenever we drive, or caravan, out of state together. I get all of these cryptic weird messages and alerts when his radar detector goes off. Something about 10-4 and rubber ducks and anything else he can think of to amuse himself.
Q: What is something you’ve always wanted to study that you thought would change or influence your art?
A: I have been looking into the field of art and medicine, and I’m super excited about it. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the idea of humanizing the hospital environment with art. I think people get confused and think that arts in medicine is the same as art therapy, but it’s a different field. It doesn’t require you to be a licensed therapist and you aren’t working toward a specific set of clinical goals.
Within the arts in medicine field, you can hang pictures on the walls of hospitals, and even take it steps further where you build installations and have artistic activities in the healthcare space. This can be good for assisted living facilities and even hospice, and it’s definitely a field that I would like to branch into. If I had the time, of course.
I’m not sure if that kind of work would actually influence my personal art. I kind of keep my personal art very…well, personal. I feel like my creative projects in film and Mardi Gras are very collaborative, and my fine art gives me space to keep something for myself. Although I would definitely learn about the art making process from working with people in that environment. That being said, I would love to bring some of the Mardi Gras artwork into the healthcare environment. Doing installations with some of the carnival flowers and collaborating with patients to build those installations and personalize them would be really fantastic. So I could see it influencing the Mardi Gras artwork for sure.
Q: What is your relationship to water?
A: I love it. I don’t drink enough of it. I think I live in a chronic state of dehydration. I love to be on the water. I love everything about water.
I’m bath taker. Sometimes, the only time that I get to sit down for more than ten minutes is when I take a bath.
And during the summer in New Orleans I still take baths. Sometimes it feels great because the air conditioning is so low in house that the bath feels so good. I come from a family of bath takers, so it has been passed down to me. And if I ever have children they’ll probably be bath takers too. Is it hereditary? Is there a study on this?
Q: What would you do if you had a notebook, a pen, no electronics, and had to wait by yourself somewhere for at least an hour?
A: In the past, I would sketch strangers that were also waiting, and I would try to be discreet because I never want to get caught doing that. It feels kinda creepy when it’s happening. I really enjoy sketching people. I’d say I enjoy it more than I do sketching architecture or landscape. There’s a lot of appreciation for nature in my life, it’s just that the art that deals with the human element resonates with me the most. Humans in art fascinate me, so I usually gravitate toward drawing people.
If I happen to have any old photographs in my purse then I might also sketch those too.
Either that, or I’d be making a list of things to do because I’m obsessed with making lists. I am notorious for having multiple, small lists that all float around at the bottom of my purse.
I’ve now gotten on board with the smart phone, and I can use the notepad. If I go out of town then I might have three or four revolving lists. Things to do, things to pack, things to not to forget, and of course they’re all on separate lists. I also have strange irrelevant lists like ‘nicknames I’ve collected over the years’, ‘New Orleans characters’, and ‘Reasons why my great grandma is the best ever’. You know, the important stuff.
And ‘catching up on emails’ or anything bureaucratic is always on every list. I get those things done, but they are on the list until they absolutely have to be done. I wish people would consider the procrastinators more. Even the IRS considers the procrastinators.