We met up
with Stephen in his studio to get a sneak peek of his upcoming
exhibition Death Is Not Your Friend, opening November
2, 2012. Here are a few shots from the visit and a bit
of our conversation...
EM - There is always a singularity present in your work which
seems to be read in a suggestive manner to the contemplative nature of a
SE - There is such process and repetition in my work that it
intuitively creates the space you are referring to. I am
interested in sacred spaces but it has never been a literal focus
of my work. I think it is a combination of my studio practice
coupled with my innate underling interest.
EM - You mentioned nods to mid-century sculpture, what is it
about that work that resonates with you?
SE - I constantly find myself coming back to the work of
mid-century designers. I look at someone like Bertoia and am
drawn to the reduction of information and the value of material in
EM - What artists do you find yourself continually being drawn
SE - Not to totally dodge the question but that list is too long
and varied at the moment. It spans architects/fashion
designers/graphic designers/filmmakers/fine artists/ etc.
EM - What was the experience of having your work viewed along
or in collaboration with Creatures of the Wind?
SE - My collaboration with Chris and Shane has developed
over the years, it started with a digital print of one of my
collages on silk for a dress. This spring I fabricated
sculptures as well as head pieces for their Fall 12 presentation.
Working in this realm sparked an accelerated studio overhaul as
well as a shift in the context in which my work is viewed. I
was tasked with making twenty sculptures to complement their show
at the Desmond Tutu Center in NYC. In addition to the
sculptural work, I translated what had only existed as
larger objects into functional headpieces for the models to
wear. This process forced me to evaluate my working process
and learn new technical skills.
EM - How important is your source, and how do you wrestle
with a source's oldness?
SE - While I work with found imagery, I remove the images I work
with from their original context. I am not caught up in the
original context, but instead I value image in its
singularity and the new space I place it in.
EM - I know you listen to Metal, but whenever I've been in your
studio the music you're listen to has been softer more instrumental
SE - I'm not going to subject someone who is visiting the studio
to my louder musical tastes. It is hard to hold a thoughtful
conversation with Raining Blood over the speakers. But here
is a mix of what I typically listen to in the studio.
EM - Do your hands hurt after a day in the studio. I
imagine that they would with the detailed nature of your process, what about your
SE - On any given day I can spend up to 8-12 straight hours
cutting out collage components. On days that I focus on one
repetitive task for too long, yes, my eyes and hands take a
EM - Do you consider your work referring to the language of
painting/drawing given that the newer work has been mounted to a
sub-straight typically used for painting?
SE - I make objects. Sometimes they are sculptural,
sometimes on paper and more recently I have been working on
wood panels. I don't think of this as a nod to painting or
drawing specifically but more so as a vehicle for my collage work.