an exploration into the life and art of Scott K. Odom
by Alex Nodopaka Jan©2006
Mr. Scott K. Odom's artistic oeuvre is loaded with characters veiled in psychological atmosphere couched in cool chalky colors. The brick and plush reds of his Cambria turn of the century surroundings become a background of almost heartrending reality to his subjects.
Scott’s profession confronts him almost on a daily basis with the human body and the drama that surrounds it when he reads the outlined chalk marks and collects bits and pieces of incriminating remnants on the ground. That body, he honors with professional dedication but it cannot help but also reflect in his art. As in the words of Bertrand Russell, we need an innocent outlet for our pent up emotions and feelings that Scott sensitively spells in his writing and art.
One may deduce from the gazes of his characters, that they have a haunting suspicion they are paper dolls cutouts from the fabric of another universe. Reading his blog entries, one might conclude that Scott feels at times a stranger in a strange land, trying to make sense of the harsh realities of life that he watches through his poetic eyes.
“I miss poetry. I miss my art. I miss having a functioning brain. I'm tired of meth freaks and stolen property and pre-dawn raids and adrenaline fueled jitter binges. But this is what I live for. The joy is in the contrast, the movement between these two extremes...”
For years he has been doing more than giving visual news and to paraphrase sculptor George Segal, I say that Scott Odom’s legacy is how far poetically he hints away from the real world. Through his portraits of everyday people, Scott preserves an intimate stillness until, exhausted by his work, cigar in mouth, he retires to his porch and meditates by blowing ideas through smoke rings.
His poetry and observations illustrate his blog and speak loudly to the viewer. By impulse I cannot help but glance back, as if at some lovelorn parting I try to make my encounter with his images yield a final word torn from the depths of what Henry James might have termed "the so beautifully unsaid."
Co-existing as a detective and artist, Scott Odom acts as a conduit between the potential horror of the human existence and its beauty. He grabs a handful of fabric from these extremes and ties them together loosely to create his visual and poetic arts. He uses beauty in order to define horror and vice versa. His art and his poetry seem to be conceived of his immersion in the darkness as well as the light of life. One might venture that his art is born in the twilight as he struggles to keep a balance, to find meaning in his experiences.
And this births his poetry…
Mr. Odom’s subtle but razor sharp humor both in his writing and art delivers closely observed social criticism not unlike Dr. G. in the forensic TV program. Scott does his part in a disarmingly politically correct style without offending.
Scott readily answers…
“I agree that my work as a detective informs my work. It acts as a kind of lens through which I focus on the human condition. By vocation and temperament I am not inclined to respond to an overly optimistic view on how we behave towards each other. Doing what I do for a living I understand on a visceral level how often the human interaction can go terribly wrong. But I also believe that by peering deeply enough into the wound, we can come out the other side with a deeper understanding of our pain, and a gratitude for it, as well as a deep and abiding gratitude for those moments when we shine with love for our fellow man, when we put self-interest and self-absorption aside and reach out with tenderness toward each other.
So, Scott, how does this impact your personal life?
“Pain, death, decay, violence, hunger, sin, madness, these are all necessary. They are as vital to us as their opposites. All experience is about contrast, and I know that each day that I come home from a homicide scene I kiss my wife a little more tenderly, hold her a little closer, than I might otherwise. Death puts the scent of life into your nostrils. For myself, I need to be constantly reminded that this might be the last day I get. Attending an autopsy, watching again and again the patient disassembly of the human body into its various parts helps to bring it all home. I am going to die. So are you. Everyone I've ever loved or known. There are no exceptions. It is astounding how infrequently we as human beings contemplate this truth.”
Scott, what you say here is incisively observant and you are a gentle humanist. How does all this reflect on your intimate relationship with your wife and friends? What is the driving force behind your metaphysical outlook in your writing and art?
The other thing that drives me is love. I am an incurable romantic, and I believe in love as the force that drives the engine of creation. Because I have an intimate relationship with death and sudden violence, I love with more abandon. This is a wonderful gift we've been given, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do, both on the job and in my art. They are each necessary to the other. Art informs the way I do my job as much as what I do informs my art.
Scott, thank you for sharing some intimate details and your philosophical outlook. We look forward to reading your illustrated blog.