by Mark Leopold | June 2016
You may know Scott Sorensen. Or at the very least, you’ve seen him around.
He grew up on Redwing Avenue right here in Fondren, and through a journey of unexpected twists and turns, here he still is today.
You may also be familiar with his art. Largely a painter, Sorensen turned to sculptures a few years back. His portraits are beautiful, but as he started thinking more about surviving “home-free” (living in the woods by choice), his art transitioned into pieces that could even be used for living.
On a smaller scale, those pieces are referred to as tensegrities: three-dimensional structures that are stabilized through tension and compression. Sorensen uses a variety of materials to create a tensegrity, but nearly all of the materials are scavenged and would otherwise be in a landfill.
The upcycled sculptures that Sorensen creates are reflective of his over-arching philosophy: we should not be a throwaway society. But, he would argue, we are.
“We throw away trash. We throw away food. We throw away people.”
Sorensen, once upon a time, was a discarded person. Home troubles as a teenager distracted him from schoolwork. He failed algebra the first time around, but after wrapping his mind around it, got an A on the second effort.
It is difficult to look at the structures Sorensen creates, the corresponding arithmetic in his notebook and hear him describe himself as “not a mathematical person.” People tell him all the time, “you have an engineer’s mind.” He argues he has an artist’s mind. “Engineers and mathematicians start with formulas and create from there. Artists create something, bugger it up. Do it again, and bugger it up. And when the product is right, we write down the math.”
Much of the success of his art comes from his ability as a shapeshifter. Sorensen needed ceramic to create something, but first, he needed a potter’s wheel. So he built one. Sorensen needed thick aluminum to build gears for a project, so he built a firepit that would get hot enough to melt down aluminum cans. He wanted to create a cooking stove for a small living space, so he built one out of large steel green bean cans. The work he is the proudest of in the past few years is the solar shower he fashioned to take warm gravity-driven showers in the winter.
Sorensen sees his art continuing to evolve toward pieces that are useful for anyone to live “home-free.” His geodesic domes, inspired by the construction principles of architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller, are both beautiful and utilitarian.
And as Sorensen continues his foray into using others waste to create art, picking up a multitude of skills along the way, we don’t just see an evolution of an artist, but an evolution of a man.