Scott Lloyd Riddle–a.k.a. Riddle–was born in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Chippewa Indian father and an Polish-American Catholic mother. Growing up in a predominately African-American inner-city neighborhood on Toledo's west side, Riddle learned the poisons of discrimination and dualism that would lead him on a lifelong journey of questioning everything: Striving to view everything from all possible angles.
At six months old, Riddle's childhood doctors diagnosed him with acute asthma and prescribed treatment of extended isolation in an oxygen tent, where he intuitively drew the intricate line drawings of his Chippewa ancestors. (*Riddle is a registered member of the Sault Saint Marie tribe of Chippewa Native Americans.) These drawings in his early youth led to Riddle's realization that art would be his lifelong passion. Even then, he instinctively incorporated the images from his tribal ancestors to address the modern human condition. Riddle thinks it is important that people understand that his life experience began with surviving the traumas of mentally ill and alcoholic parents, to raise awareness that it is possible for the seeds of creation and beauty to be sown in the soils of adversity.
At age 26, Riddle left Ohio to live and work in Tokyo, Japan. He worked as a floral arranger while drawing thousands of sketches pushing himself past his own limitations. In 1989, Riddle's artwork took a major leap forward through his introduction to the medium of clay by his friend, artist Toyoko Suzuki. Riddle's fascination with the power to bring his artwork into three dimensions took him on a 12-year journey of self-education and exploration, mixing ceramics with different mediums to achieve a variety of effects infused with inspiration from his lineal traditions.
From 1992-1993, Riddle exhibited a series of three shows titled "Modern Native" in Tokyo and Yonezawa, Japan. These exhibits consisted of hanging sculpture in mixed materials, primarily ceramic and metal. Riddle's use of iconic imagery incorporated his Chippewa heritage to transcend language and cultural barriers and convey raw emotion to the psyche of all beholders.
Riddle returned to Ohio in the mid-1990s to live in semi-rural isolation, where he continued to add natural materials and inspiration to his artwork. He emerged from this self-imposed exile to own and operate an art studio from 1995-2002 on a riverfront estate in Dublin, Ohio, selling directly to private collectors. During this time period, Riddle also visited area schools to teach children about life in the arts and the artistic process. He also taught several art mediums, including traditional weaving, ceramics and drawing, to adult students.
Riddle is currently creating a body of work that opens doorways to people's minds, by revealing a powerful perspective on human emotions. "Fear is the most potent emotion, because of the change that accompanies it," Riddle says. "My goal is to provoke challenge with my artwork, so that by exploring fear and its responses, the beholder can evolve to the next level of understanding." Once again, Riddle's art is transcending barriers to share his powerful message with all of humankind.
"I want people to feel the frenzied urgency of my spirit, translated physically, as I create primitive, chaotic shapes combined with intricate obsessions. As I give shape to my own fears, I hope to help others to identify and come to terms with their own.
When I work with elements, such as fire and earth, often these combinations are nothing more than explosive," Riddle says. "Ceramic glazing, like the human spirit, is often unpredictable. That's why a success is such a triumph. When a clarity or color pleases me, it counteracts the disappointments of failed glazings, cracks and explosions.
Making things look effortless is the mark of a true professional," Riddle says. "A single sculpture may require hand-stitching of two-inch pieces of 825 feet of steel wire to achieve the desired effect. The intricacy behind the work is often something people don't comprehend. However, this intricacy is what drives the creation of works that will provide beauty and stimulation for the lifetime of a collector."
Santa Cruz, CA