objects of ambiguous function are organized on a pegboard-like sculpture that spans a wall

Scott Vander Veen


My work investigates the ways in which material is transmitted, utilized, and preserved. Memory, on a personal as well as a cultural scale, seeps from the apertures of my objects or clings to their surfaces like residue. The histories we are born into, the identities we embrace or reject, our desires and our ways of being are betrayed by the objects that we surround ourselves with. These abstractions become especially legible in the ways we categorize, organize, and tend to said objects. In my studio, the banal is grafted with the uncanny, and the natural is wed to the artificial. I work to upend and re-orient the normative structures that unfold as the material manifestation of ideology, perverting the rules of these structures and searching for ways to make sense of their violence, contradiction, and absurdity. 


objects of ambiguous function are organized on a pegboard-like sculpture that spans a wall

Organizing Principle (Equipment)

wood, plaster, wax, rubber, duct tape, plexiglass, found objects, hardware
dimensions variable

This modular sculpture is a reinterpration of a Shaker pegboard housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The original object is a clean, proto-minimalist, morally scrupulous framework for housing functional objects like brooms or chairs. Useful objects such as these play an important role in defining one's identity, ideology, or social role. Organizing Principle (Equpiment) twists and subverts the ethics of categorization and function, opening the disorienting possibilies of re-arrangement. The piece highlights the absurdity, nihilism, and violence that are often at play in normative organizing systems. 


A large fake stump is split open to reveal a smaller, nesting stump, both of which sit in an oversized red wagon

Ordination (Red Wagon)

wood, plaster, wax, hardware, belts
36 x 72 x 40 inches

Red Wagon with tree-stump. Trees are unfashionably vertical, largely discarded in favor of the horizontality of the rhizome. But the stump is something else entirely. It isn’t organized horizontally or vertically. It can have history (roots) but no will and no future. 

It’s anything you want it to be. It’s a phantom limb. It’s the palimpsest of the entirety of human history. It’s Americana, whether you like that or not. Tree-lined streets, meeting at perfect right angles, each with a red enameled mailbox and an accompanying tiny flag. 

Hollowed out, the stump can be a fairytale house where little gnomes or anthropomorphic frogs dressed in suits throw tea parties. 

Out with the old, in with the new. The cleared plot is planted again as a grid, like a suburban block or a cemetery, shaded by the spreading leaves of new oaks and the needles of pines.


a painting-sculpture hybrid object cobbled together from various fabrics and materials

Graft 1

wood, plaster, foam, fabric, latex, plastic, hardware, oil paint, and screen print
48 x 48 inches

1. A shoot or a twig inserted into a slit on the trunk or stem of a living plant, from which it receives sap
2. A piece of living tissue that is transplanted surgically
3. Insert or fix (something) permanently to something else, typically in a way considered inappropriate

late Middle English graff, from Old French grafe, via Latin from Greek graphion ‘stylus, writing implement’ (with reference to the tapered tip of the scion), from graphein ‘write’.


A silicone heart shape dominates a wood panel, skinned in yellow duct tape, the seams of which are sealed with black furniture tacks.


wood, duct tape, silicone, dirt, hardware
48 x 48 inches

Wood panel skinned in yellow duct tape, the seams of which are secured by black furniture tacks. A heart shape is cut out of the center of the panel and replaced with a taut sheet of silicone, encrusted with dirt and punctuated by a grommet. 


a colorful artificial tree trunk is bound by ropes to a column

Listener (Gemel)

plaster, concrete, foam, bucket, paint, rope, hardware
50 x 12 x 12 inches

Inosculation is a natural phenomenon in which trunks, branches or roots of two trees grow together in a manner biologically similar to the artificial process of grafting. The term is derived from Latin roots (to kiss into/inward/against or to make a small mouth inward/into/against). Trees having undergone the process are referred to in forestry as gemels, from the Latin word meaning a pair.


a painting, upholstered in green and adorned with a button down shirt and smooth stones holds a severed tree-limb from a pair of springs

Green Man

wood, vinyl, shirt, stones, tree-limb, hardware
72 x 28 inches

Vinyl upholstery, button down shirt, stones, tree limb. 


a picket fence-like frame houses a blurry screenprint of yellow flowers

Identifying Wildflowers at High Speed

wood, plexiglass, collage with silkscreen 
36 x 22

Screenprint with collage and artist-made frame.


a large painting with a transparent surface and interior sculptural forms


wood, nylon, glue, paper, plaster, wax, graphite
96 x 48 inches

Transparent painting with interior bits.


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