Currently Crushing On: Spencer Lott
By Krista G.
One of our oldest friends and earliest collaborators from our backyard cabaret days, puppeteer Spencer Lott gets to do a little bit of everything he loves — write, direct, design, and perform. He’s a brilliant and playful maker who constantly churns out new ideas and projects, from collaborating with avant-garde visual artists like Liz Hara and Maiko Kikuchi for the HERE Artist Residency Program (of which he is a recipient) to being the associate artistic director of the Trusty Sidekick Theatre Company where he recently performed in a show called Up and Away, which allows eight young people with autism to experience a sensory journey through the clouds in a hot air balloon. It’s as dreamy and delightful as it sounds – we were lucky enough to see the show a few years ago during its first production at the Big Umbrella Festival and can’t recommend it enough. Oh, and when he’s not doing all these incredible things, he also fills in as a day player on Sesame Street.
Spencer Lott in the studio.
Spencer hand-crafts and sculpts all his puppet friends.
Spencer fell in love with puppetry early. In kindergarten he said he wanted to be the next Jim Henson. With his parents’ help, he grew up taking all sorts of classes — drawing, dance, acting — all of which added to a diverse set of creative skills that apply to being a puppeteer. He credits the generous amount of support he received at home and in school along with his own determination and a lack of common judgement for getting him to where he is today.
Puppetry has a long history of activism, satire, and now (at least in the U.S.) a place in education, something Spencer is excited to be a part of as a teaching artist and through his current work to develop enrichment education. He says part of why puppets are successful in these specific areas is that they have the ability to connect to audiences of all ages in the tangible world, not just as images on another screen. In this way, their physical presence allows for a real world connection, a felt magic. That magic is just one of the reasons we love Spencer (and all his puppets, too, of course).
The colorful worlds Spencer creates spark imagination in any crowd.
What colors are you drawn to?Shades of green and shades of charcoals or grays.
Who are your style influencers?
I am a sucker for Wes Anderson, and I am always curious about what former artists were wearing. What did they wear in the ‘20s, the 1970’s? I’m always looking for an artist’s uniform, a way to identify myself. But I see I may be too late. I don’t know if I’ve found it.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Classic Vanilla. It drives my wife crazy.
What is the last book you read?
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It’s amazing. I’ve only got fifty pages left so far. It’s almost like script. I really dig it.
What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
Pancakes or waffles?
Which historical figure would you take to brunch and why?
Maybe because I’m reading Lincoln in the Bardo, Abraham Lincoln. It would be so interesting to hear his thought process. We often idealize and romanticize him and I’m curious what he was like in person, how he communicated. Also to see if he prefers pancakes or waffles.
What have you experienced recently that you recommend?
Taking a long walk for a few hours and wandering aimlessly around the Whitney for as long as you feel necessary.
If you had to choose a life motto, what would yours be?
Make something you care about and then get out of its way.