Fashion Column: How many ties do you have in total?
Dr. Stueck: Around 179
FC: Dr. Stueck, since you have so many ties, do you spend a long time deciding which one to wear in the morning?
Dr. S: No.
FC: Do you just pick out one?
Dr. S.: Yeah, do you mean which tie? No. Sometimes, I can’t decide and I ask my wife. She used to think I made terrible choices some days, so she’d go pick out a new tie. Now she says, “It’s just high school.”
FC: Do you intentionally choose your outfit so it can match with your tie? ( If so, do you have some secret rules for matching?)
Dr. S.: Some days.
FC: Because you don’t really care, “it’s just high school?” hahaha
Dr. S.: Well that’s what she said, not what I said. Some days she would say, “You have blue on and there is no blue in that tie,” stuff like that. I tend not to like white ties but I have some because white ties are fun.
FC: I haven’t seen many people wear white ties.
Dr.S.: Oh, I have some white ties; my first advisory, their names were on a white tie.
FC: Ah, yes! I have seen you wear that one. How long have you been collecting ties?
Dr. S.: I didn’t really collect ties until I started teaching here. I had a few: I inherited them from my dad - both of the bolo ties, the string ties. He liked to wear those out in Colorado where he retired.
FC: What made you start your collection?
Dr. S.: People would give ‘em to me is how it happened… students gave me ties. Sometimes I make ties. I don’t usually wear bow ties but sometimes I wear the clip ones. (Points to his bow tie - $0.50!) I thought it was pretty cute. It’s falling apart. I need to fix it. I figure I am not going to teach forever. Thinking about going back to college so I figured if would use 77 ties on my new sculpture, Davos. I am down to 100. That’s how it goes...100 ties.
My dad always wore a tie to work. He was a civil engineer. Everybody wore hats then, in the Fifties, like those hats up there. (Points to hats in office). You know why they wore hats so much in the old days?
FC: No, why?
Dr. S.: Because they heated with coal and there was lots of soot that came down from the cities, so hats kept your hair clean...yeah, and it was kind of the look from the Fifies. That’s why in every pre-Sixties movie, they’re wearing hats. John Kennedy didn’t wear a hat, and he changed the whole fashion of wearing hats.
FC: How do you get your ties?
Dr. S.: Right, 3 ways. My wife shops, either at thrift sales, Potter’s House, or the Salvation Army. People give me ties. In fact, I was considering that of the ties on my sculpture, many were given to me by a friend. She thought I was giving them away or selling them but anyway, you know, when I travel I see ‘em at yard sales. One of my favorite ones, I bought in Portland, Oregon. It’s a little, skinny Calvin Klein tie.
All artists play around with ideas, options; those are important for artists. Writers play around with words. So yeah, ties are kind of silly, actually. They are kind of a left-over thing. You know, back in the 1700’s and 1800’s, men used to get dressed up in ruffles and things, kind of like peacocks. They were all fancy. Then, it started going away and going away and the only thing left really are ties, if you think about it. They just wore the ties with their grey suits.
I hope it Davos (the sculpture with ties) gets in. Davos. Davos, Switzerland. They’ve been doing this World Economics Conference for 48 some years. It’s such a political statement about how the people making decisions for the whole planet are the ones with the ties. Most people don’t wear ties; they just do the work. The people sitting around making decisions, making all the money, they get the ties.
FC: I am definitely going to add this into the final piece.
Dr. S.: Well, if it's about ties then I think it will tie-in well. Anyway, I’m really fascinated with where the ties are made. Like, this tie that I’m wearing is made in Thailand. I think this tie (points to tie in office) is made in America. But I have ties from all different countries in the world that make ties: Japan, China. My mom bought me a nice silk tie from China with dragons on it. I’ve got ties from Sri Lanka, too. I don’t think I have one from Mexico. Mostly I have ties from countries that have sweatshops, like Haiti, El Salvador, where they make clothes now since they moved all the clothing factories out of America because they don’t pay very big wages.
I do some sculptures about that too, exported slavery. I think it’s fun having things from various places: Sri Lanka, Burma, Philippines. I am going to check out where they’re all from.
The other day, we had some wood from Norway. Yeah, they just cut down some trees, made plywood, and shipped it over here. You don’t see a lot of stuff from Norway, like you don’t see a lot from Switzerland except these cough drops. These are from Switzerland.