Skepticism

Get to Know Your Skepchick: Surly Amy

She’s been traveling the world, taking pictures of Skepchicks and interviewing them for your …*ahem*… “reading” pleasure. And now it’s time for you to get to know Amy! She’s our favoritest jeweler on the planet, she’s gorgeous (see for yourself) and, as you already know, she’s the smartest bitch in Hollywood… and she’s a bad ass… but you might be shocked to learn that she’s less surly than she claims.

For today’s interview, we commissioned the talented Johnny Skaare to photograph our lovely (and loved) Amy. Enjoy!Amy 1 small

So…. How do you like being a Skepchick?

I absolutely LOVE being a Skepchick. In fact whenever I meet people now I just add “Skepchick” to the end of my name, sorta like FBI and then I wink. It’s been very effective. Just yesterday I got free ice water at a very upscale Hollywood restaurant. I’m positive it was because of my Skepchick credentials.

Living in Hollywood, you are in Scientology Mecca. How do you cope?

When I first starting learning about Scientology I was appalled by the insane concepts in their ideology and I would stomp my feet and literally get in arguments with them on theAmy 33 small street. I lost a good friend who was a Scientologist because I tried to convince him to leave. As time went on and I learned more about the organization my anger has subsided to calm amusement. They are so freaking crazy acting that it’s pretty much pure entertainment for me at this point. I mean have you seen the clusters of them in their little sailor suits with their blank stares? They are darling! And the crazy keeps escalating. You just don’t know what shenanigans they will pull next, all under the umbrella of “freedom of religion”. They are totally the Sopranos of the cult scene. People are actually betting on which big name star will leave the organization next and I myself am curious as to which high level member is going to have the next temper tantrum on camera. Seems that has been happening pretty frequently. I took their free personality test a few years back and so every few months they call me to invite me get auditing or to attend some other over priced event and I look forward to their calls. I tell my husband, “Scientology called today to let us know they are still insane.”

What made you decide to create skeptically themed jewelry? Why ceramics?

All my life I have been searching for a way to create art and send a positive message. The goal of my art has always been to connect with the viewer. I worked as a graphic designer and in marketing for a time and I have always been passionate about communication though visual mediums. I have been painting for around 20 years and I grew up working in my Amy 35 smallmothers ceramic studio. She had a porcelain business when I was younger. About 4 years ago (after failure after failure of trying to make a living as an artist) everything sort of came together at once. I starting designing ceramic jewelry as a way to make extra money after my art gallery closed and I became exposed to the skeptical movement right around the same time. I merged the art, the skepticism, my experience in clay and the idea of visual communication together and Surly-Ramics “Smart Jewelry” was created. I really enjoy the idea that the people that wear Surly-Ramics become an integral part of the art project. I am passionate about spreading the basic concepts of science and skepticism to mainstream audiences and I think with the help of people wearing science and skeptical themed jewelry we have increased the odds of achieving that goal. I also enjoy the idea of placing beautiful little objects on smart people everywhere. It’s my way of celebrating those who have made the effort to think instead of simply accepting. Face it, thinking is hard work and it’s hard work that lasts a lifetime. Those efforts should be honored and encouraged.

Where does your artistic inspiration come from? Who are your art-heroes and influences?

It may sound cliche, but I literally find inspiration everywhere. I have never experienced  the artistic version of writers block. As far as my artwork is concerned, there is seriously not enough time in the day to get all the projects done that I want to do.  I am like a little kid when it comes to art. There is nothing more inspiring to meAmy 24 small than a blank canvas, or a rainy day, or a sunset, or a woman’s face, or a lump of clay, a blade of grass or a… well, you get the idea.

As for art-heroes, I am a big huge fan of Frida Kahlo and I often wear flowers in my hair as an homage to her. I also am quite fond of Picasso, Robert Williams and Mark Tansey.

Who are some of your favorite critical thinker artists?

Mark Tansey is great for critical thinking in terms of visual representations and conflict and Barbera Kruger is another one of my favorites. She is a conceptual artist who has combined design and advertising to create wonderful, poignant in your face art that addresses everything from gender and racial issues to commercialism.

Why do you think the arts are drowning in woo? Is it because you’re all smoking pot all the time?

*cough* I’m sorry could you repeat the question? *cough*Amy 8 small

Seriously though, I think there is a lot of woo in the arts because art by nature has an “anything goes” mentality associated with it. There is definitely a stigma associated with “creative types”. The concept of art to many people is considered a playful activity or a Jackson Pollock breaking of the rules type of freedom of expression but I would also argue that

a majority of art is about experimentation combined with critical thought. Art and science have maintained a lovely relationship throughout history and have consistently inspired one another and that is the type of relationship I hope to foster.

Amy 17 smallAt the Skepchick Villa Party, when Rebecca announced that you were going to be joining the Skepchick team, the most surprising thing was that the SQUEEEES didn’t break any windows! What was that moment like for you?

Seriously, that was one of the best moments EVER. Being applauded by a room full of people you have so much respect for is absolutely amazing. I will never forget that night and while Rebecca and Sid will be celebrating their wedding anniversary at TAM next year, I will be totally celebrating my Skepchickversary! Please join me!

You say you’re 38… you’re either 24 and lying or you should go on Oprah to pimp your youth-preserving secret formula. Which is it? And how much do we have to pay you for the formula?

Tis true, and I will be 39 in February. Hey, maybe we

Amy 13 small

should call Oprah! The latest in self help! Skepticism and art keeps you healthy! I have noticed that Skepchicks are happier (and cuter) than most as well. I would love to go on her show and pimp the wacky-never-before-heard-on-daytime-television concept of critical thinking! We can call it, “Beautiful Brains for a Better You.”

Let’s say we got our Skepchick Island… what things would you demand we supply for you?

I will demand a kiln, clay and glaze supplies, one 3ft x 4ft blank canvas a month, paint, brushes and potato tacos. I would request some wine as well but this is Skepchick Island we are talking about, I’m pretty sure there will be a martini lake or swanky wine cellar somewhere on the property.

So what are you plans for the future? How are you going to save the world?Amy 9 small

I think I will keep making art and I will keep pushing this whole science and skepticism thing. I think we are totally on to something.

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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39 Comments

  1. Extra bonus for referring to yourself as Surly. A sorely underused descriptor. So exactly how much do over-the-shoulder tattoos hurt to get. Both my wife and I are working on tattoo ideas and placement is obviously a key consideration.

  2. Going through the pics, trying to find them on surlyramics.com – like some sort of I Spy game. So far I’ve got: calavera, Ode to the Artist, phases of the moon, smiley, angel wing heart, and some sort of tree that I can’t locate.

  3. Hey Amy – sorry I missed you at the Burbank Hilton. Major migraine. However, as a fellow 38 year old heavily tattooed Skepchick in L.A., we should put together a meeting of some sort here!

  4. I was one of the squee-ers at the villa party. : ) I just met her in person a few hours before then and was immediately a fan. Because she is awesome. And adorable and kind and supportive and generous. And she takes pictures that make me look really hot. So, she’s pretty much perfect.

  5. Amy: Clearly, you know you’re hot, so I won’t belabor the point, but I would like to comment on something you said in the interview. Specifically, this:

    “I would also argue that a majority of art is about experimentation combined with critical thought. Art and science have maintained a lovely relationship throughout history and have consistently inspired one another and that is the type of relationship I hope to foster.”

    An excellent crystalization of the murky border between art and science. You, and all the Skepchicks, continue to blow me away with your insight and general awesomeness. Please don’t stop.

    Okay, now I’m gushing. And if I keep staring at your pics much longer, I may need to lie down for a while. I need to find me a girl like you. (I am secretly wishing your husband ill, right now. Does this make me a bad person?)

  6. @Steve: …”and some sort of tree that I can’t locate.”

    Maybe it’s Yggdrasil, and Amy is a Skepti-Valkyrie come to take the dead skeptics to the halls of Skepchick Island to poke holes in woo for all eternity? Oh, one can only hope…

  7. I think post hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves due to some other great posts, but I wanted to put another vote in for Amy being both incredibly intelligent (her posts are some of my favs) and gorgeous (I have severe ink envy).

    38? OMGWTFBBQ!! No. effing. way.

  8. @Steve: Maybe ove a drink at a skeptic event I will explain the process to you. Lots of different techniques go into making the pieces. Some are drawings, some impressions and each one is formed by hand and hand painted. The glazes are often created with recycled glass but again, it depends on what color and effect I am going for as to what particular process is used.

  9. And its time for another episode of “get to know your skepchicks cleavage!”
    High angle shots down low cut tops!
    The brains!
    The beauty!
    The mental brawn!

    Get your hands out of your pants and back on your keyboard!
    (if I get banned for this i will be seriously pissed)

  10. Okay, seriously. For the last four “Get to know your skepchick” I have resisted the impulse to log in and say something about how incredibly gorgeous the skepchick in question was. Because I know how painfully boorish it is for some unknown male to log in and say “oh wow that chick is hot”.

    But this makes FIVE TIMES IN A ROW. Seriously, you are all utterly stunning. Every one of you has proven to be drop-dead, heartbreakingly gorgeous. Do you filter your membership for hotness or something?

    I’d react that way to the photos even if you weren’t all awesome, intelligent rationalists. But that really pushes it over the top — it’s enough to break any skeptical straight dude’s heart!

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