Spencer Everett

Spencer Everett: A Community of Found, Broken, and rebuilt objects

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By Sloane Cameron

I am sure you know Spencer already. If you don’t, you will soon.

Artist and dancer: Spencer Everett is in total control of the images he creates. With intense intentionality in the process of creation, Everett presents a complex and carefully crafted three-dimensional experience. I hesitate to call his presentation of five forms encased in a glass enclosure a sculpture because it is more than that– it is a thought process, a perspectival encounter, an ever-changing movement of time. 

My first interaction with Everett’s art was much more foundational. I watched as he scribbled in his notebook during a class we shared (while simultaneously taking expert notes, I might add). “Everything starts on paper,” the artist tells me when I ask about his progression from drawings into sculpture, but Everett’s journey as an artist did not begin with class-time doodles. He graciously admits to having had support and encouragement as an artist in high school where his teachers and community afforded him opportunities to explore and begin to hone in on his craft. This support from a young age can be attributed in part to his confidence today. 

In his self-assurance, Everett has no problem taking risks and making mistakes. Beginning with an initial idea, he plays with what he makes and evolves it into new life after new life: a perpetual development until having to present a final form. He says of his dance and art that “I like to create a problem for myself and then try to solve it” which in this case was learning to deal with glass, hot glue, and paper together. Everett’s process of beginning with raw creativity, “rarely ever [starting] with an intention” of what his work will end up looking like, and building meaning and motion in the reiterations of his work, leads to a final product which is complexly nuanced and deeply thought out from every perceived perspective. 

Spencer Everett, Lie in Wait, A Sudden Disturbance, Snake in the Garden, Tread Lightly, Spilt Milk, 2021. Photographer Stephen Apicella-Hitchcock.

Everett’s final collection of five narratives confined within a glass box are situated around hip level and lit from above. From one side, one can view the objects uninterrupted from the top and side, moving to see the faces of each and every surface. As one begins their investigation into the captivity of the glass pen, an urge to move to the other side of the case moves you. On this side, you interrupt the light cast down onto the scene and insert yourself into the narrative. 

The objects titled Lie in Wait, A Sudden Disturbance, Snake in the Garden, Tread Lightly, and Spilt Milk guide an interpretive viewership of the performance-like display without giving too much away. You can hear the individual titles, glance at the objects, and perceive a meaning, or you can explore, probe, and interrogate the space which Everett presents in order to write your own script for the glass stage. Covered and cautious, the objects can be understood with a sense of danger, yet fragility; transparency, yet solidity; as being personal, yet universal; figurative, yet abstract. 

Ultimately, this is a piece of community where individuals are unique but exist with commonality in a shared space. Spend time with this work, engage with this work, insert yourself into this community, for it will make you think about what constitutes community to you. I will leave you with Spencer’s words as he says it best: 

Everything in here was once a part of one thing: even the paper itself is all part of a single book, it was all attached and bound, it was one entity. [But] one thing is not a community, it is one individual. By taking these objects and breaking them, and taking them apart and creating many pieces, all of a sudden there is this opportunity for community and relationships between the objects that were once one thing. In an interesting way, the community comes back together as one object.