John Stoltzfus is a friend of mine and member of the Lebanon County, PA Amish community (you may recall reading his comments on this blog from time to time). Like any Old Order Amishman, John’s home is not wired, but he does have access to a computer via his job and neighbors, which isn’t commonplace but not too rare either.
John also has an interesting passion–creating digital works of art. I asked John a few questions about his work today which I thought you might enjoy:
What kind of work do you do? My job is to design custom fabricated items and specialty agriculture equipment for a local company.
How are you able to use a computer at your job? Is your community more lenient towards them? Could be that they are, however, everyone knows it’s just a matter of time and for me it has become more of a vital tool for our future. It is here to stay and most (not all), of the Plain Communities will be using computers in the near future.
I have used a computer since the late 1980’s and still remember the 286 – upgraded to the 386, wow, that’s a long time ago. If the computer is owned by the place that employs you it has been tolerated. I actually have had our Bishop come to me to produce our Church District map to distribute. Also, there are more and more of our people that own computers, of course secretly, and use the computer in our local library.
Did you always have an interest in art? I have always enjoyed art of many forms, especially Abstract and Sculpture. I have done just minor carvings over the years, however this time the Digital Abstract Art hit me like a ton of bricks.
Abstract paintings have always caught my eye, rather than people, places and things etc. For me an abstract art piece has more of a mystery and an enchantment to it than other art, such as people or places, you know what it is. Abstract is a feeling and moods are conveyed from an inner power that is beyond anything. I still have a deep admiration and appreciation for all the people that can paint vivid feathers on ducks and hair on dogs etc…in other words, a fantastic precision that I sometimes envy.
How do you create your art? The computer software that I use everyday is call SolidWorks ( www.solidworks.com ). I have use this program since late 1997.
Which creations are your favorite? My personal favorite is the cover on my Facebook page, called the Water Lily. When I happened across this one I knew that I had something to market. There are many more that have become second most favorites and the next ones are the following: “As We Lay In The Dark” – “Skyscraper At Night” – “The Eruption” – “Shore Line” – The Mt. DaMadeu” – The Coral Reef” – “Scattered Leaves”. Oh there’s more, however most of the ones I like the best were done initially.
What are the challenges? The biggest challenge is to keep on trying new techniques, because they are developed as a scene and then captured, which is different from the brush stroke artist, where you sketch the scene and then add details. I need to add details and then find the scene and those details are developed with surface color, texture and overall the lighting options that I can use are almost endless. I say “Art is like dessert, the best is yet to come”.
What kind of feedback have you gotten? I have been reaching out to other artists, rather as many as I can find, friends of friends etc. The feedback is on my Facebook Page.
Do you know other Amish artists? Yes, my wife has a niece that does wonderful art work.
What do others in your community think? No idea, except close family. My perception is most would think it weird art, not realizing that art is a tool to convey feelings, etc. In other words, I have only reached out to a few very close, close friends. This type of art won’t touch the people in the Plain Communities.
What future do you envision for your work? The biggest personal achievement would be to create art for the SolidWorks Corporation, decorating the corporate halls of SW. That is the ultimate goal and the least achievable, because of their strict Art Decor Policy. In the meantime we are looking into changing the FB page to an online store and start selling and if we sell enough, we start doing shows, then go from there. I want to follow the art wherever it takes me.
Find more of John’s art on his Facebook page.