Artist’s Statement

Cleveland Heights artist Stephen Calhoun

What my art centers on | web sitenews | Q&A | Portfolio/Exhibits | Notes on approaches

 

To steep ourselves in a subject-matter we have first to plunge into it.— John Dewey

(Hypothesis: that a congerie may be transformed into a compelling and evocative order. Driven by a viewer’s natural urge of consciousness to grasp order, discover shapes and symbols, knit together patterns, and unearth archetypes and narratives, such an order redounds in the viewer’s personal reflection.)

My art’s aim is to grip the viewer, and then inspire the viewer to seek their own unique discoveries in each image. Each piece is an experiment in numinous intervention. The sensitive viewer completes the experiment.

Stephen Calhoun - Sentinal II

Sentinel II (2021)
 

 

If you have not experienced a thing, it is not true!— Kabir

Because I aim my art at creating an opportunity for the viewer to, as John Dewey put it, “have an experience,” my art is intended to be for all ages and for all time. My hope is that beholders use their imaginations to discover what is both accessible and hidden in the dense weave of patterns of my images.

To this end the viewer’s time is the great gift which predicates their experiential engagement. My artworks privilege openness, presence, imagination and curiosity. I’m drawn nowadays to the idea that the viewer’s experience of art is a way of listening to their own consciousness.

Follow the perfume, not the tracks.— Shams of Tabriz

My artist’s statement is a living description! Stephen Calhoun, December 2018-July 2022  (question(s)? comment(s)? conversation? contact: sc.calhoun@gmail.com | 216.269.5568 Cleveland, Ohio, USA) | Q&A

updated July 2022

CAN Journal - cover spring 2019 - Stephen CalhounFeature article Collective Arts Network Journal March 2019
My Intent Washes Away

ARTIST’S BACKGROUND

Stephen Calhoun, born 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio USA, is a self-taught artist working in a variety of modalities, most prominently photography, mixed process new media, digital cinema, generative, stochastic art, and, sound design. His use of technology counts him exclusively as a digital artist since 2003. (Before then he was a hobbyist painter.) Starting as a self-taught graphic designer in 1985, he painted from 1993-2002. He took up procedural, generative digital art in 2003. In 2009, he took up digital photography, and soon began fusing photography with generative procedures. His experiments have focused on complexity, iteration, and symmetry since 2012.  He became a working artist after being discovered by Cleveland art maven and gallerist Deba Gray in 2014. He was 59 years old at that life altering moment. His debut solo exhibition, The Grasp of Order, was presented by Ms. Gray and Serena Harrigan at Grays Auctioneers in Cleveland 2016-2017.

However, as a visual artist his art is most deeply influenced by music. He was an instrumentalist, sound designer, and composer, producing ten recordings under the name Kamelmauz between 2001-2015. As well, he is a theorist in the field of experiential learning and its role in adult development. He is retired from the workaday world, having worked in organizational development and in the music business. He would tell you: he is an experiential artist.

His recent work is centered on applying geometric iterations, mirror and kaleidoscopic symmetries to source images. Most often the source materials are a set-up he builds in his studio from a vast inventory of organic, botanical, found and sculptural materials. Such a set-up instantiates the complex and often seemingly chaotic subject. In turn, this subject constitutes the ripe condition for iteration. Finally, the iteration’s pattern-making sets up the condition for the viewer’s experience.

I conduct ensembles—the congerie—of materials made up of combinations of flowers, dried leaves, figurines, and found objects. I photograph these set-ups to be iterated into symmetries. Next I apply technological processes to alter slightly, or greatly, the original image. My sensibility is through-and-through experimental, musical and improvisatory.

Knysna Night Blossom - Stephen Calhoun

Knysna Night Blossom (2017)

He has exhibited widely in juried, group, solo, and curated shows. His current artistic catalogue of archival prints to paper, aluminum, vinyl, acrylic, cloth, light box, and glass is available variously in small limited and final editions (which add a single artist’s proof to the edition.)  Additionally select artworks are available around the world through Artebooking (Europe,) the advisory Oh Good Party (Toronto/Shanghai,) and Saatchi. He sells his works from his web site, artiststephencalhoun.com.

July 2022

Stephen Calhoun - Teaching Eleven (generative art)

Teaching Eleven (2020)

They [his art works] are, in general, mind-blowing: a symphonic collection of the debris and detritus of nature and civilization restructured by the artist in such a way that these supposedly dead things dance energetically. Simpler designs are mandala-like. Some (like the attached image) appear as Bosch and Bruegel inspired dreams while others vibrate, figures destroying and reforming themselves as in the “Matrix” movies. To me they are pictures of the dancing Wu Li masters, where physics meets mysticism: all is energy, and nothing is ever lost. —artist Gary Dumm

Stephen Calhoun - Frontier

 

Frontier (2021)