Green Doors Blog > Artist Spotlight: The Work of Scott Clapper

Artist Spotlight: The Work of Scott Clapper

Scott Clapper is many things. A collector, folk artist, and inventor, Scott first came to Green Doors as a disabled veteran struggling to keep a roof over his head. Today, he lives in a meticulously kept one-bedroom apartment at Pecan Springs Commons, the walls lined with shelves featuring an extensive mineral collection. A year or so ago, Scott toyed with the idea of studying gemology, but he soon became disillusioned with the dishonesty of the industry. “I’ll give you an example: The vast majority of blue topaz is the result of heat treatment in a lab,” he explains. “There’s just so much dishonesty in the industry. I learned what I needed to learn, and I use that knowledge in my mineral collecting.” Add purist to the list.

Scott found every item in his collection on pilgrimages to various secret spots right here in Central Texas.  Though he keeps the ancient Native grinding tools and arrowheads hidden in a box in his closet, he displays his minerals on shelves in his living room – even the rare mercury ore Cinnabar. “It’s totally non-toxic,” he explains as he gently rolls the smooth reddish stone in his palm. Each piece is lovingly oiled to reveal their natural beauty and gently positioned on plastic bottle caps to offer admirers the best view.

Scott credits the old song from Sesame Street “One of These Things (is Not Like the Others),” as his collector’s anthem: as he walks through woods and wades through streams to find his treasures, he bears those words in mind. Who knows what the odd glint in water or interestingly shaped lump in the dirt may reveal? He finds most of his art materials by keeping an eye out while walking around, too. “Mainly I’ll find something and say, man, I can make something outta that! Like this one,” he says, pointing to a piece hanging on the wall. “I found this belt lying by the dumpster a couple weeks ago, and I said, ‘Man, I can make something outta that!'”

Scott loosely defines what he does as folk art. “It’s a poverty thing. It comes from necessity – when you don’t have the money for real art stuff, you just use what you can.”

It’s this repurposing of materials that makes Scott’s work so interesting. His prize-winning sculpture, Neon Man, was crafted out of two lighters, two toothbrush handles, a deodorant wheel, plastic beads, and two windshields from a toy car kit. “It won first place at the Annual Temple Veterans Art Competition,” he says, grinning sheepishly and waving his hand in front of him as if to bat away any compliment this news might incur. “I have a picture of him next to the ribbon, but it’s put away.” As he says this, he carefully places Neon Man back on the shelf. “I’m compulsive,” he explains. “I have to put everything away.”

It’s true – Scott’s apartment is tidy to the point of minimalism. Homemade shelves hold artifacts that Scott either found or made, such as the incense burner he crafted out of a tuna can, thumbtacks, and a screw-on lid from a metal bottle, all heat-treated to create an antiqued brass patina. “My grandfather always burned incense, my daughter burns incense – it’s a family tradition. I like it much better than those chemicals people spray all over the place.”

“I credit this one to Andrea, totally,” Scott says of a wall hanging he calls the Veterans Memorial Plaque. He’s referring to Green Doors Housing Specialist Andrea Garcia, who works closely with him as part of Green Door’s Rental Assistance Program for People with Disabilities.

During one of her home visits, Andrea brought a flyer from Access Gallery, a local gallery that promotes work by people with disabilities. This particular flyer was calling for work done by veterans, and Andrea thought that Scott might feel inspired.  And he was, though perhaps not in the way Andrea had anticipated. “I was inspired by the way they laid out the branches of service, so I just cut ‘em out and started coming up with way to make something out of it.” One cd case, four bottle caps, some yellow paint and whole lot of acrylic finish later, the Veteran’s Memorial Plaque was complete.

“I don’t plan none of this stuff,” he confides. “It just comes into my head. I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t like what I do very much; I think it looks childish. But, like I said, I’m compulsive. I have to be doing something at all times.”

Scott channels this compulsion into collecting, creating, and researching. His knowledge of minerals is astounding. But more than anything, it’s the creation that soothes his busy mind the most. “When I first came to Green Doors, I had nothing – no furniture, no bed, no income,” Scott recalls. “But I had craft supplies, thank god. They saved me.”


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Diana Welch

Diana Welch joined Green Doors in November 2011. As development associate, her goal is to help spread the word of this organization's mission while expanding community awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness. Through her careers as an author, journalist, and communication consultant, Diana's professional passion has always been telling stories, be them her own or someone else's. In 2009, she and her siblings co-authored a memoir called The Kids are All Right, which recounts from four first-person perspectives the experience of being orphaned and separated as children, only to be reunited as teenagers. The memoir won the 2009 Alex award from the American Library Association and was featured on Good Morning America, People Magazine, and elsewhere. Preceding publication of her book, she worked at the Austin Chronicle as community editor as well as a reporter specializing in issues such as community activism and subcultural movements.

One Comment

  1. Susan O'Connor
    Posted September 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this wonderful article – Scott is my brother, I had tears in my eyes as I read this and saw the pictures. My other sister Tracy lives in Missippi and recently visited Scott in Texas and saw his collection first hand. I am deeply moved and proud of his work here.

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