Art Annual 2023

Artist Profile: Joyce Utting Schutter

Cape Cod Art  /  ART Annual 2023 /

Writer: Jenna Ellis

Born and raised New England native, now Sandwich local, Joyce Utting Schutter was born in Boston and grew up in Guilford, Connecticut. After spending nearly two decades living out in the Midwest, Schutter found herself drawn back to New England, this time on Cape Cod, “I’ve always had a thing for trees, curvy roads, and stone walls.” 

A-Muse-ing • hand-made flax & abaca paper, wood, gourds, goldenrod galls,dry pigments, watercolor

The eminent artist studied paper making and an array of sculpting techniques, earning her MFA in Sculpture from the University of Iowa, where she spent some time raising her family in the Midwest before moving back to New England. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and she has been awarded a 2021 Fellowship Grant in Crafts by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Niche Awards in 2011 & 2014 by the Buyers Market of American Craft, and a SAC Award by the Society of Arts & Crafts in Boston. Now represented by the Cove Gallery in Wellfleet, her work primarily consists of sculpting with sprayed paper pulp on armatures, crafted out of welded steel, paper, fiber, and cast iron. 

Schutter’s backyard studio provides her with abundant opportunities to indulge in her artistry and fuel her passion for crafting captivating three-dimensional sculptures. Despite her early fascination with painting and drawing, she confesses, “I’m more attracted to three-dimensional artwork because I love light and the way light plays with real things.” Elaborating on why she gravitates towards sculpture work, “Sculpture is something that’s dynamic that has a certain interaction with the paper as a material, it’s translucent.” 

“I have two kinds of pieces: pieces that are about the natural world and then pieces that are more narrative,” explains Schutter. The piece titled, Common Ground, is a visually stunning grove of trees and she reveals on the bottom, “It’s a ring of stones like Stonehenge, it’s about the spiritual relationships between humans and nature throughout millennia.” Even the materials that comprise this piece have a sense of significance, “Underneath the stones lie roving wool to represent the mycorrhizae fungi that is part of the communication between the roots of different species of trees.”

One of her narrative pieces, titled The Lure of Shade, is illustrative of what happens in our lives if we succumb to a certain lifestyle, place, job, etc., we find ourselves to be so comfortable that we become reluctant to venture beyond its confines. Schutter describes her inspiration behind the work, “Picture yourself in a canoe on a river on a very hot day, and the sun is beating down on you while you’re paddling down or up the river. You find a shady place and it’s so comfortable that you just want to stay there. But if you stay there too long, you could imagine seeds coming down from the trees, taking root in the canoe. The roots grow down through the bottom of the boat and suddenly, you’re in a position where you are unable to move forward.” 

Similar to both Common Ground, and The Lure of Shade, Schutter’s artwork is filled with allegorical meanings, and she oftentimes draws inspiration from the relationship between human beings and nature. She interprets the natural world surrounding her, incorporating these influences into her artwork: “Every life touches another. From the microscopic to the cosmic, we are intertwined. The beauty and the imperative of this interconnectivity are major themes in my work. Here on Cape Cod, surrounded by so much that bears witness to this relationship, I am constantly inspired.” 

Joyce’s work can be seen at Cove Gallery in Wellfleet and on the artist’s page at