Stuart Welch is a compulsive hobbyist and tinkerer from Lafayette. He spends his weekdays doing law and his nights and weekends doing anything else. For the past few years that “anything else” has included making a lot of music and visual art, usually in weeks-long bursts of activity and often at a breakneck pace. Most of his non-collaborative work takes the form of short and scrappy music videos or animations in the vein of sketches, often focusing on learning techniques or playing with ideas that can be useful for larger projects and collaborations. In his own work, at least, he’s comfortable with a little messiness, leaving mistakes in and loose threads untrimmed. His greatest joy, though, is creating with others.
He makes music on a wide range of instruments and equipment, including a Eurorack modular synthesizer system, regular synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, and anything else that makes noise. He’s atrocious at playing guitar but still owns a few, mostly as an excuse to accumulate effects pedals. As someone with broad musical tastes, his own work doesn’t stick to any particular genre and is typically composed intuitively rather than planned before sitting down at an instrument.
His visual work is divided between traditional video (frequently incorporating pieces from the public domain) and creating 3D and 2D images and animations in Blender, which he began learning in early 2021. Though he enjoys traditional modeling and animation techniques, he focuses primarily on parametric modeling and animation using Blender’s Geometry Nodes, whose node-based workflow feels similar to modular synthesis and is a perfect marriage of technical difficulty and creative freedom.
Who makes up your art circle?
It’s amazing how many gifted people live in Lafayette, and I feel fortunate to have creative friends who constantly inspire me through their own music, visual art, dance, and writing. While there’s a lot to be said for seeking out truly neutral feedback, it’s really helpful and much more fun to bounce ideas off of like-minded weirdos. I’ve really enjoyed working with choreographers and dancers for the past few years, making music and sometimes visuals for larger pieces, and it feels like an ideal fit for my own approach to music, which is less formal (despite multiple attempts at learning it, I remain a music theory dunce) and more about intuition and feel. My biggest and favorite collaboration so far was “4-Letter Word” with Paige Barnett, who choreographed five dancers to my music and visuals in a piece that had four public performances at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in late April and early May of 2021, then ran as a video installation for the next month or so (see link below).
How do you expand your art circle?
Simply sharing my work, including works in progress and failed experiments, has greatly expanded my art circle. I used to be too self-critical and prone to feeling imposter syndrome to finish anything, but about five years ago I decided life was too short to trash everything I made, and I gave myself permission to just create, whether the result was good or bad, and start sharing stuff on social media. Not only was it freeing to stop being so precious about my work, but sharing it meant that other people actually knew what I was up to. Being involved in some things that are fairly niche in this area (and some that are emphatically niche anywhere, like modular synthesizers) means that people even remotely interested in those things tend to reach out to me, and I’ve met some good collaborators and friends that way. But perhaps the biggest way I’ve expanded my art circle is by saying yes to collaborations, even when I feel like I may be getting in way over my head. No disasters so far, just a lot of fun.
What value do you see in having a creative community?
A large creative community makes a city feel alive, and the same is true on a smaller scale with a personal creative community. Being able to share the joys and frustrations of artistic pursuits with people who understand is invaluable, and it makes creating art, which is often a solitary pursuit, feel warmer. But even more important, I think having a diverse creative community can help prevent artistic stagnation. Seeing people making a wide variety of art inspires me to keep changing up my own approach and learning new things.
How does your artistic approach contribute to your community?
For my own work and collaborations, I strive to be approachable, open, and supportive and to leave ego at the door. My goal is always to say yes to any feasible invitation to work together, then treat it like a serious (but fun!) commitment. I know I always feel energized in my personal work after I’ve finished making something with other people, and I also feel so much more plugged into the community. I want to see everyone thrive, and if I can do even a small thing to help that, I will. Beyond my artistic approach, though, I try to support local artists more directly: go to Art Walk and talk to creators, listen to local music, buy a painting or collage, attend a dance performance, or even just message someone to let them know I like their work. We have some amazing artists in Acadiana, and I want them to know it.
4-Letter Word Debut Performance at the Acadiana Center for the Arts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuC8duMb0uY
Music Sampler: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuB7HSLBSs1n5d8E23TYAbd1rHJIdqTQw
Visual Sampler, including videos I made for music by Nick Breaux and Michael Boudreaux and the final song from “4-Letter Word,” “Fast Flux,” with music by me and lyrics and vocals by Nicole Curtis: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuB7HSLBSs1ni6AnOv1uuV_TjLd-Wa95K