BY ELIZABETH FRIEDLY / AJT //
Even if you’ve never set foot in a gallery or purchased a piece of art, chances are you’ve seen Steve Steinman’s work. His largest piece can be seen by simply by looking out the window of your Marta train window: His piece “Endless Journey” adorns the entirety of the Buckhead station, totaling to the length of two football fields.
A graduate of both the Rhode Island School of Design and the Pratt Institute, Steinman spent a large portion of his career simultaneously serving as the Dean of the American InterContintental University and working as an artist. He moved to Atlanta from New York in 1979 without a place to live and has since flourished with the fledgling Southern scene.
His work – including the Monument to Slain Police Officers in Woodruff Park – has enhanced outdoor and indoor spaces alike. Now he is set to unveil his latest collection at the Mason Murer Gallery. The Atlanta Jewish Times spoke with him about his career and power of art in community.
Atlanta Jewish Times: Congratulations on the opening. Are the pieces all part of your recent “Broken Circles” collection?
Steven Steinman: Yes; basically, I’m making a statement about my thoughts, my concerns and my interests in the direction of our country and where we are in terms of recycling and manufacturing.
As a result, it’s changed our consciousness, and we have evolved into what is referred to as a “disposable society.” We manufacture cheap products and use cheap products, and nothing is ever really made to last like it used to be. In the past, if something broke, we would spend time or money fixing it. Instead now we tend to throw it out and buy new.
AJT: And how are these disposables incorporated into the series?
SS: It [Broken Circles] is full of these things that we’ve tossed away, whether it be shaved parts or whether it be oil parts or anything. The only specification is metal, but that tends to be very wide.
What I’ve been doing is rescuing, in a sense, these thrown-away pieces that are old and rusty – taking them and taking the rust off them and using sculpture, particularly the circle, as a metaphor. It’s more or less to say that we need to come full circle back to where we were, taking pride in what we do – recycling materials or getting back into manufacturing.
AJT: How many pieces are in the exhibit?
SS: Probably about 12 to 15.
AJT: Would you say that this is your most political series?
SS: Yes, I would.
You know, in the past I’ve done a lot of different things that harken to landscapes, traditional landscapes. I’ve always been involved with that, and previous work has dealt with the concept of landscape and urban sprawl, so to speak, which is somewhat political. But yes, this [Broken Circles] is probably the most political of any series.
AJT: What was it like designing for Marta?
SS: We spent almost a year designing and redesigning the artwork that would cover all but the entire station. That had never been done before.
I was fortunate enough that, at the time, the Atlanta campus for AIU was right next door. The university supported me, so I would do what I had to do in the mornings, and then – with the help of my students who would come with me – we would do this piece.
We did shifts, and we painted it all. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. It [the project] represented the things I was passionate about, my career and education, so the students came and worked with me and learned. It was a win-win situation for everybody.
AJT: Anything you’d like to add about the opening?
SS: You know the gallery [Mason Murer Gallery] is considered to be the largest gallery in the city of Atlanta. They are interesting in the sense that they also use the spaces to serve the community.
They do a lot of public meeting and functions. They support projects; you know, my last show there was at Christmas time, and they asked everyone to bring a toy for a charity. So they’re always doing stuff to support the Atlanta community. I think it’s great.
Visit stevesteinmanfineart.com for more on the artist and his works. “Broken Circles” is a part of the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery’s Spring Show, opening April 5; visit masonmurer.info for location, hours and info.