Gregory Steel, City Audio Tracks 1, video still
Interview: Gregory Steel
Gregory Steel is an American artists, born in Detroit, currently Assistant Professor of Fine Arts & New Media at Indiana University Kokomo. As a self-taught artist, Steel held jobs in various disciplines in order to support his work, but after many years of making art on his own he realized he needed a serious arts education. Steel received a BFA from The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and an MFA in New Genres from the University of Michigan. After his studies were completed he took a position at The College for Creative Studies teaching sculpture and experimental media.
Luca Curci – When you start practicing art and why?
Gregory Steel – I have always done artwork, since childhood it has been a practice of mine to draw, paint, scribble and construct things, it has always been a part of my life and who I am. I continue this practice today no matter where or in what circumstance I find myself in, I practice making art and thinking of art as I do my day to day business.
L. C. – Can you talk about your artistic work? Which are your inspirations?
G. S. – I think it is difficult to encapsulate one’s work in a few sentences. As an artist I see my work is constantly evolving and developing as I develop as a person. At this point in my life my work is deeply attached to my interest in philosophy so much of my work becomes an exercise or a statement related to different philosophical issues and problems. My current research involves the sublime and much of my visual work is guided by the problematics I find in the sublime. Visual experience of the sublime has been with us for very long time and besides beauty it is the second core issue in the aesthetic. I am inspired by many things, experiences, images, concepts and philosophical problems. I tend to blend these together when working on a piece or considering the creation of visual experience, in other words, my work tends to ask questions about the world, our perceptions and the problems we deal with being humans.
I’ve been inspired by many other artists primarily, Marcel Duchamp, Allan Kaprow, Bill Viola and Pipillotti Rist just to name a few. That being said, I find inspiration all around me all the time in the lives we live collectively in the problems and issues we share as beings.
Gregory Steel, Pingpong, video still
L. C. – What are you currently working on?
G. S. – Currently I am working on a PhD in philosophy, aesthetics and critical theory and writing a dissertation titled, “The Genealogy of the Sublime; a Lacanian Analytic”. Although this academic research is taking up much of my time currently I’m making great strides in finding and making connections with the visual and issues of the sublime. Some current artistic research has to do with the perceptions and refractions of light as it relates to a sublime experience. I have begun working on a new series of videos dealing with with light and the sublime. This work aligns the visual and academic in both areas support and enhance the other. It is my hope that upon the completion of my dissertation I will also have completed a series of video’s that complement the written portion of the dissertation and present in a visual way the ideas and concepts expressed in the written work. In addition to the video work I have begun a series of photographic work capturing images that express the visual experience of the sublime from different aspects both the seen and the seer’s perspective.
Gregory Steel, Joseph Steel, video still
L. C. – What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
G. S. – Probably the best advice I was given as an artist was to keep working, keep thinking, and follow my own heart. To believe in myself and to respect myself as a human and is an artist living in the world. To be grateful for the opportunities to be an artist, to share my deepest thoughts and emotions with others and to remain humble.
L. C. – What is art for you?
G. S. – Art is something humans do, is part of who and what we are, it is us. Asking a question like this is difficult to answer because it is so much a part of humanity. We are all creators in one way or another to say I am an artist means that I am doing something in particular and that that particular thing is called art. But the question remains, what is art? It’s a little alike asking what is to be human or what is to be alive? I think the mystery of what it is is part of what it is, in other words, the fact that it is indefinable is as necessary to the notion of art as to our attempted explanation. It is as much a great mystery as his human existence and probably should and always remain so. It is freedom, in its most pure sense and form and in its pure freedom it is the most beautiful and sublime experiences that we can have and/or create. For me this is the important thing about art, that expresses this total freedom, this total beauty, and ultimately a sublime experience.
Gregory Steel, Night Sky, video still
L. C. – What do you think about International ArtExpo organization?
G. S. – I think the International ArtExpo organization is a fantastic element in the world of contemporary art today. It brings together international exhibitions and provides unique and interesting options and possibilities for artists from around the world. Opportunities that they would otherwise not have nor could they have. The work that International ArtExpo does and the level at which they perform is amazing! From small out-of-the-way exhibitions to major contemporary art world events these opportunities for artists to ask exhibit their work and to share with the rest of the world offer an unprecedented level for any artist, a long-standing professional to someone just beginning. The different curators and organizers of these events and the artist participating create a mix of relationships that generate further opportunities and possibilities for exhibitions and artists to share their work. I have been involved with International ArtExpo for many years now and have always appreciated and been grateful for the work they have done in the opportunities they’ve presented me as a visual artist. I look forward to many more years of collaboration and work with the organization, the curators and organizers of exhibitions yet to come.
Gregory Steel, Road, video still
L. C. – Do you think International ArtExpo organization can represent an opportunity for artists?
G. S. – The International ArtExpo organization is a great opportunity for artists to engage with an international audience. It is difficult for many artist to find exhibition opportunities even in their local communities without finding an opportunity to show on such a large stage and in an international context. The fact that International ArtExpo exists primarily for this purpose is amazing and exciting. I recommend to all my students and friends that they seek out these kinds of opportunities and options for themselves as a developed their own art careers and wish to share their visual creations and images with the world. I think organizations like this are the future of the world of art as a create opportunities for artists outside of the proper art world and allow the artist freedom to express and to show their work in places otherwise unavailable. The amazing work that International ArtExpo does cannot be measured nor can it be dismissed; all artists should pay attention and get involved if they can. This organization represents a shift in possibility for our and for all the artists, to miss this opportunity is to miss a possible new future.