STEVE BARTLETT

 

To begin, could you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you for this opportunity, I’m pleased to be here. I was born in West Virginia and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. It was in my sophomore year at Kenyon College in Ohio where I was introduced to ‘art’ and became hooked on sculpture. Since graduation I’ve lived mostly in California, and in 2014 my wife and I moved to Maine.

Describe your journey to becoming an artist. Has it been easy? Natural? What has been difficult?

It’s certainly not been easy but my love of being in the studio making things has kept me at it. In San Francisco, where I lived after college and supported myself as a housepainter, I used say that as long as I could make my stuff on a consistent schedule, then all in my world would be ok. I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life and have always found a way to set up a studio and do the work. I believe I’m on my 12th studio, and settled, thankfully.

How would you describe your work to someone?

Assembled bent wood sculpture. Is organic, asymmetric, different shapes and sizes with various finishes.

What is your process like? How important is process in understanding your work?

My process is intuitive and evolutionary. When starting a piece I look back at what I’ve done recently, decide on an idea or not, and just get going. I’ve always worked very directly, in a piece by piece way, from the surface(ground)up. Sometimes I’ll do a simple sketch but many times not. So there’s not a lot of planning, just myself and the material, working together. I’m dealing with curves, planes, and angles in the construction of these pieces and all need to work in concert to get what I want. The process that suits me best is to fit one piece of wood to the next and so on. 

What does your work aim to say?

I’m over here, have a look.

Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how they have impacted your work?

Longtime favorites are David Smith and Dubuffet, and more recently the painter Suzan Frecon. Any influence they, or the myriad of other artists I admire is difficult to determine. 

Where do you find inspiration?

In my studio, from the process of making the work.

In your experience, what is the best thing about being an artist? What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

I like the individual pursuit, the independence and freedom. 

What piece of advice would you give to a young artist?

Find a material or concept that you truly love to work with, do it, don’t be deterred, and be prepared for many ups and downs. 

 
Adam Reid Fox