Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.
Earlier this week, I wandered into Crooked Tree Coffeehouse and was curious about the art on display by artist Kyle Steed. So I decided to contact him and find out more. If you’re interested in seeing his work, you’d best be quick: it’s only on display through Saturday. After that, photographer Daniel Davis’ images from Africa and Latin America take over the space.
Tina Aguilar: Your art bio card says, “Sometimes it hits me in between waking and sleep. Other times it takes weeks/months for an idea to form together into the creative spirit that is woven into my being. The process is always usually the same. Sketch, cut, paste, deconstruct, paint over, start again, and stare hour after hour until I’m sick of looking at it. Each piece speaks of faith and our humanity. My hope is that it would help us reflect on the inside instead of our outward distractions.” I am interested in the construction and collection of your pieces. How do you accumulate the amalgamation of layers/found pieces/thoughts/colors/textures?
Kyle Steed: When I can, I like to visit flea markets around town to find new objects. The best I’ve found are the Stockyards Flea Market in Fort Worth and the Buchanan Flea Market in Dallas. It’s rare to find that “perfect” piece, but sometimes you get lucky. Other times the prices are too high or all they have is crap. But then again, I am extremely picky when it comes to found objects. The colors/textures I use are usually found in old books. I love how paper ages. It’s a delicate process, taking paper 100 years old and cutting it, ripping it and adhering it, all in an organized fashion. My paintings, on the other hand, are a bit more carefree. If I make a mistake, great – it only adds to the texture of the piece it will become. Other times, I know exactly what I want, so I get clean lines and a more polished look. I’m comfortable with both approaches.
T.A.: Could you describe particular aspects of your creative process that fit together better than others?
K.S.: I don’t know if my creative process has parts that don’t fit together. In the end, all of the mistakes, corrections and doubts I have about a piece form together to make it what it is. Even in trying to correct my mistakes, that is part of the overall process.
T.A.: The art you create invites a viewer to stop and fixate – it offers one the chance to think. What do you find comes to mind when you consider the intersection between your art and viewers?
K.S.: I think probably most people would see my work and think I’m a religious nut. But I’m not. I’m somewhere in between. Jesus Christ is my savior, but that’s not what I’m trying to tell people. I’m saying, “Hey, look at me, I’ve got issues to deal with too.” But I hope people see the hope in my work as well.
T.A.: I encourage my humanities students to observe and open their eyes as they traverse between home, work and school. One of our assignments is to keep a journal of observations throughout the semester – no matter how small or simple it might seem. Then we track, share and, ultimately, understand how their individual aesthetic and sense of place develops. As an artist and creative person, what types of observations do you make in your day-to-day experiences? Do you currently have a favorite place?
K.S.: Forty hours a week I spend in a cubicle. So the time I get driving to and from work I like to spend observing nature and thinking. Another place I’ve found where I get a chance to clear my head is the bathroom. When I’m at home, my time is divided up between my wife, our two dogs and sleeping. But I can’t say I have a favorite place to observe. Although, any place with lots of people who are too busy to pay attention is always fun.
T.A.: One of my favorite pieces that I want to reach out and touch or dial somewhere is a piece that incorporates a keypad and text in a container of some sort. I love that a viewer sees the internal parts with the writing. Can you tell me a little about that one?
K.S.: The keypad was part of an old phone that I took apart. I left some of the wires attached. The box it sits in was an old silverware case which I had to deconstruct. The writing all over the box was spontaneous and emotional. The keypad in the center is symbolic of the human heart and how there are many different ways people can call our hearts. The writing then becomes all the noise and voices we hear around us. But there’s no receiver to pick up. So it almost transforms itself into a keypad of a safe. And once you enter the correct password, it will open up.
T.A.: What about the smaller boxes (top) hung in the front living room with words encased in each one?
K.S.: The smaller boxes with “boy,” “girl,” “love,” “yes/no” and “maybe” are all about just that. Relationships. But not mature relationships. Rather, the grade-school games that boys and girls play by passing notes in class or in the hall. I guess it’s all different now with cellphones, but I think the idea is still the same.
Kyle Steed’s work can be seen at the Crooked Tree Coffeehouse through this Saturday. For local music devotees, Kirk Thurmond plays Friday night. Admission is free.