Construction of the Void: An Interview with Scott Hazard

Through layering and material, Scott Hazard, with his work, seeks to take “under-noticed” spaces and craft them into new, almost surreal landscapes. These spaces invite viewers to meditate within the depths and consider the infinite.

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Who is Scott Hazard--past, present, and future?

I grew up in various parts of California and have been living and working in Raleigh, North Carolina for the past nine years. I am a dad and husband along with artist and landscape designer. As for the future I plan to continue making work for gallery exhibitions as well as focus on the integration of my art and landscape design.

Your style of work is very distinct. How did you first happen upon layered voids and landscapes?

I have a background in landscape design and construction which heavily informs my work.  I consider the pieces I create to be mental gardens that encourage people to delve in and explore a meditative space. The layering and spacing of materials creates a visual effect that allows the viewer to move into a sculpted void articulated within the work. The viewer registers the edges of many layers of paper or photographs as their eyes track through this void. The layering effect reflects in part a view of the world being a composition of masses of layers of matter, ideas and information. My interest in creating these spaces is grounded in the notion that a refuge from what is seemingly an onslaught of information can be made of the same materials or information (in this case text or images) a person may be trying to get away from.

For your work, do you look toward un-familiar locations or places that mean something personal to you?

My photo based work often includes images of under-noticed spaces, most frequently urban environments that have undergone some level of decomposition and are in various stages of being reclaimed by nature.

Speaking of place, is there a specific site that holds an important significance to you? Can you tell us a little about this place?

The articulation of space and place are important in my work. There is no specific physical place that plays a recurring role in my work, but If I had to pick one that has had an impact, I would say the Carizzo Plain in Central California is significant to me. It is a vast, open and quiet native grassland with the San Andreas Fault running right through it. The large, open, rocky and dry landscapes in the western portion of the U.S. resonate with me the most. In essence, I appreciate places that make one feel aware, exposed, and as if he or she is a very small part of something infinitely bigger all at the same time.

Who is your favorite artist and how did they shape the way you think about art or the creative process?

There are a slew of artists, writers and philosophers whose work and ideas have impacted my thinking. Robert Smithson, Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta Clark, Nancy Holt, Martin Puryear, Jackie Winsor, Aldwyth and the painters of the Hudson River School all factor into the ideas and approaches in my work. Robert Irwin’s work and writings have had a significant impact on me. His approach using the physical presence and conceptual precision of his work to articulate natural and perceptual phenomena has profoundly influenced my work and process.

One of the elements that I find most captivating about a lot of your work is your use of unexpected depth. How do you think this alters the audience's interaction with a given piece? What are you trying to achieve with this effect?

I am working to pull the viewer in to a crafted meditative space where she or he can linger. The sense of depth is key to provide the viewer a place to explore, whether in a mysterious space that is partly out of reach or an entirely visually accessible space focused on what is immediately apparent. By setting up the layers of paper or photographs at intervals in a physical space, a sense of looking at and through is created. Each layer in the work is a slightly different iteration of the layers that are immediately adjacent. This process of reading many layers of the same thing reflects a Buddhist notion that there are many ways an idea or thing can be understood.

Relating to my last question, you said in a previous interview that you're looking to bridge the sense of space one might find in an image or poem with the experience of viewing a sculpture or entering and exploring a garden. How do other mediums, whether it be the literary arts or music, influence your work?

Writings and music that have an emphasis on creating a specific and well defined (or really hazy can be fine too) mental space or atmosphere have always captivated me. A wide range of music (lately a lot of psychedelic music whether recorded recently or 50 years ago), cosmic rock, and jazz, as well as writers such as Thoreau, JB Jackson, Pico Iyer and Edward Abbey have had a significant influence. Thoreau wrote about the ability of people to be able to ‘read’ the complexities and nuances in a landscape in order to better understand it. Much like the words of a song placed in the context of a wash of sound, I use text and images to play the role of concise information within a larger and seemingly pastoral space or landscape.

What advice would you give a young artist?

Make work, exhibit the work, learn to understand how your work fits in the world, connect with people inside and outside the art world…don’t expect anything to drop in your lap, but be ready when opportunities present themselves.

Describe a moment that you'll never forget.

The few months I spent on an uncle’s small farm in the Pacific Northwest years ago were really special. It was a lot of work and it rained almost constantly, but I learned so much about how we can engage with the land in a very tangible way. A more concise moment was experiencing Alfredo Jaar’s installation “The eyes of Gutete Emerita” – I can’t forget the impact that work had, the importance of the subject matter and the thought that went into how the viewer experienced the work.

What was the last song you listened to?

Where your Head Goes by Ty Segall

What should we expect from you next?

More text and image based work and hopefully an installation in the next year or two. I am very excited about a solo exhibition in the Washington DC area in September of this year, as well as having work in exhibitions at the University of Florida and here in Raleigh this Fall.

Find more of Scott’s work here.

Images © Scott Hazard

“Cloud Chamber” – sculpture/photography (wood, D-prints, glass), 9.5 x 13.5”x 5”,  framed, 2011

“Sky Chamber” –  sculpture/photography (wood,D-prints, glass), 9.5 x 13.5” x 5”, framed, 2011

“Doors Measure the Distance” – sculpture/photography (wood, D-prints, glass), 8.5 x 12.5” x 5” framed, 2011

“Rolling Door” – sculpture/photography (wood, D-prints, glass), 8.5 x 12.5” x 5” framed, 2011

 “Landscape Threshole” –  sculpture/photography (wood, D-prints, glass), 8.5 x 12.5” x 5”, framed, 2009

 “Read This Line (detail)” – sculpture (Maple faced plywood, acrylic, paper, text), 28” x 42” x 14”, 2013

 “Rise (detail)” – sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text), 34” x 54” x 55”, 2014

“Heavy Rocks (detail)” – sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text), 8” x 30” x 11”, 2013

 “A Little Quiet” – sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text), 8” x 21” x 11″, 2013

  “+/- (detail)” – sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text), 10” x 11” x 10, 2012

“Field” – sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text.), 10” x 20” x 24”, 2013


Liza is a former Atwood Magazine contributor.