We had the good fortune of connecting with Whitney Schlander and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Whitney, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
In regards to my work, the hardest decision was to stop working when my youngest daughter’s medical needs outweighed my ability to continue working. And yet, it was a choiceless choice, because she needed me more than anything. With each one of my children, it has revealed a deeper layer within, but my daughter was the deepest undoing in trusting the timing of my artistic life. One of the most difficult decisions I make daily is to believe that the work i am doing matters for myself and others, for the greater whole.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Currently, I am most proud that I have continued pursuing my creative work. After receiving my Bachelors of Art, I went straight into the display coordinator position for Anthropologie where I challenged my skillset in three dimensional practices- creative problem solving, time management, working large scale, being scared and showing up anyway. I moved onto floral arranging, working under two florists which furthered my eye for composition. After having my son and then two daughters, my first love of painting flooded back until I was overflowing with ideas that needed to be released. And I just never stopped. This work feels wildly important for my own healing and those around me. I believe art is a practice we all can benefit from, it’s a safe space to explore, to enter our inner world, to problem solve, to grow and nurture the self. It can be difficult managing the needs of our family and my deep need to create. There’s all the things you would think that can happen in our lives on any given day but it’s learning to trust the timing of my days and know the ideas and work will happen- it will come to fruition when it’s supposed to. I have to rearrange on the daily but that’s not a setback, it’s where I am with having young children and grinding out work. It’s taught me to be more decisive, to trust my decisions because there is not as much time to linger. I’ve brought my children into the practice of art making, encouraging them to trust themselves and to see that what they make is good simply because they participated, they showed up and created. Most of my pieces are commissions right now, it’s a collaborative effort between the artist and client. I guess that is the difference in my work. I love to get inside the mind of a person and find out what motivates them, what’s being held back inside them, what inspires them, and make something that deeply touches the unspoken.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So many incredible places here in Arizona- I would make hiking a must. there are plenty of trails in the scottsdale/phoenix area or you could head to the Grand Canyon and Sedona- those are the most beautiful hikes. There’s a tiny tamale place called Tamaliza in sedona that is delicious. Coffee is always Cartel or Press. My favorite restaurants are Glai Baan, Chelsea’s Kitchen, La Grande Orange, Bacanora, Fat Ox, Postino. I love to be by the pool or sit in the sunshine, be in nature, so anywhere with those things fills my cup. arizona has plenty of that. the scottsdale museum of contemporary art is in old town scottsdale and is a vibrant area to walk around as well as the phoenix art museum. But, my favorite has to be Taliesan West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert laboratory. It’s always inspiring and i’ve been numerous times. Arcosanti and Cosanti’s studio are close behind. The desert botanical gardens possess such unique plant and flower species year round, the grounds are stunning. That should fill a week!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
so many people and life experiences are the representation of where I am today. My parents for exposing me to art and fostering my passion, my siblings and friends who purchased artwork early on and continue to encourage me, professors who challenged me, my husband who believed in me before I did, my children, and a book called When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd.