By day, Dr. Scott Shulman is a primary care physician with Laureate Medical Group in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs, Ga. By night, he connects with his creativity through art.
When we discovered one of his most complex pieces, an enormous fish made entirely out of Coca-Cola company cans, we had to know more. So on a recent overcast Friday afternoon, we sat down with Dr. Shulman to discuss about his art, Coca-Cola and more.
Where are you from, and how did you end up in Atlanta?
I was born in Pennsylvania. I grew up outside of Reading, in a really small town very close to the Amish. I have been in Atlanta since 1979. I came here for college and medical school at Emory.
How did you find your way into art?
As a kid, I built a lot of models. Then when we moved into our first house, I had no place to do anything, but my wife came home one day and said, “I volunteered you to make Noah’s Ark for the school play.” Of course, once you do something someplace, somebody finds out – and so someone asked me if I would make something for a silent auction. I made a very funky sawblade face out of hardware parts.
How would you describe your art?
I enjoy making something from nothing. I’ve made things out of wood, melted crayon, paint chips, nuts and bolts.
What inspired the fish piece?
Some people ask me where my ideas come from, but I have no idea. My practice built this building, and I did all our interior design and space design; I just felt like something needed to be on the hall walls, and I wanted something you could see from the parking lot (although you can also see it from Georgia 400) and not be overwhelming if you are standing in the hallway. I started the fish in January and finished it in June.
Did you drink all the drinks needed to make this piece?
I asked friends to bring me cans. I bought sodas for my family. I bought sodas for people in the office, saying “All I want is the can, just give me the can and I’ll pay for the soda.” I had my kids help me crush the cans.
It took 723 cans in the fish and the seaweed. They’re all adhered by screws. It took three of us to hang the piece. I actually had to get one of my sons to come in and hold it up, while two people held it up and screwed it in the wall. The piece is 13 feet long.
Have you made any other pieces with Coke cans?
Yes. The other piece was actually a couple different Coke products: I cut the cans – once you open the cans up, they cut like paper – it was a large heart that had different Coke products, different sizes, but they were flattened in the heart, and then the outside was all Diet Sprite cans.
What does Coca-Cola mean to you?
Well I’ve been in Atlanta for 36 years and obviously it’s certainly a symbol of Atlanta. One of my best friends started at Coke and then branched off. He now owns a business that functions as a point of contact between The Coca-Cola Company and the bottler.