LIBBY SCHOETTLE is a collage artist who with her alter-ego character, PhoebeNewYork, delves deep into the life of a timeless woman in a modern way. Ironic, irate, loving and smart—Phoebe always makes us think about the emotion beyond the aesthetics.
Libby is a storyteller interested in exploring what it means to be human. Libby relies on words, their placement, their shape, and their texture to explore her character, and this helps her to explore and explain herself. She uses found photographs (often worn and damaged), as well as record album covers, images from contemporary fashion magazines, and pages from old fashion and pop art magazines to create her own narrative that reveals her fantasy life and her rich memories from childhood. Libby finds art materials at flea markets, antique stores, through private collectors, eBay, and also at Strand Bookstore. She also discovers things, especially printed words while walking down the street. Libby is always looking for things and, in this way, art permeates every moment of her life. Libby considers this act of searching for art material as valuable as the eventual outcome, completed artworks, because her search inspires her to live. “When I’m looking for something, I have a purpose.”
Libby’s work is mildly surrealist, her character lives on the edge of self-destruction and loneliness in some artworks, and yet she is considered a cute, whimsical, and happy girl in others. In many ways Libby still considers herself a child, and Phoebe is her grownup way of playing dolls. Her inspiration and materials for Phoebe spill from assorted boxes of paper letters, words, dresses and heads. Everything goes back into the boxes and is put away after a day of creating collages. There is a constant search for meaning with Phoebe and a playfulness while finding it.
PhoebeNewYork is rooted in existential values; she is no longer a mainstream human: she is part of the desk the bed, she is a coffee-maker, an egg beater, a box of cookies, a flower. PhoebeNewYork is the artist’s channel for love, for pain, for all the good and bad of life; she is a means of self-exploration and self-expression of the positive and negative for Libby. Through Phoebe, by reinventing and reinterpreting photos and magazines pages and whatever other objects she finds, Libby is able to explore her hopes and dreams, and her nightmares as well. There is a strong element of black humor to PhoebeNewYork: the character is able to make light of the serious in sometimes disturbing subject material. Through Phoebe, Libby delves into addiction, death, anxiety, depression, love, eating disorders, beauty, and time.There is an overall confusion as to where Phoebe is in time, and Libby likes to explore that as a way to explore her own confusion regarding time.
Libby also expresses herself through written work, self-portraits, and line drawings, and is currently the subject of a docu-series regarding her life as an artist.
STREET ART WORK
“Stickers are an amazing way to ‘show’ your art. The street organically becomes your gallery.” – Libby Schoettle
Libby’s street art came about quite accidentally. In 2014, the artist found herself looking around the city, really noticing stickers and wheat pastes. She thought, “I wonder if my art could fit in out on the streets.” It felt like she was asking if she, herself, could truly fit out in the streets. This was a valid question for such an introverted artist who still chooses to spend almost all her time creating art, alone, inside her apartment.
Libby began the adventure of getting out and putting stickers up, which quickly became a fun ongoing activity. Until she began to “sticker,” (and later wheatpaste) Libby had no idea what impact repeated symbols on the street could have. She has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from the street art, and she is excited when she finds people have publicly posted pictures of her on Instagram. She continues to evolve her street offerings to inspire herself and, hopefully, others.
Libby likes making street art for so many reasons, including its unique relationship with time. She appreciates the immediacy of spreading her art on the streets. She feels rooted in time whenever she passes a PhoebeNewYork image she put up yesterday, or months ago. She considers the decay of a PhoebeNewYork image over time to be beautiful evidence that her art has lived (and she has lived through that experience, as well). The serendipity of who sees the art—and which version of its changing form they might see—is another way in which the intersection of art and time intrigues the artist.