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Meet Carly Steward

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carly Steward.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I never really thought about being an artist until I was an adult. I loved photography in high school, but I never envisioned it as a career. I thought that I would become a lawyer because I loved watching the show Matlock as a kid. I did, however, end up in art school. Even in the beginning of my art school career, I never identified as an artist. I always assumed that I would take photography into the commercial realm, never fine art. It wasn’t until I took a class called Theory as Practice in undergrad that I considered art as a lifelong pursuit. Artist, Meg Cranston taught the class and completely transformed the way I think about the world and about art. I remember during one of her lectures thinking holy crap- this is it; this is what I am supposed to do with my life. After undergrad at Otis, I went on the graduate school at CalArts.

Please tell us about your art.
I work in a lot of different mediums sculpture, collage, bookmaking, but the root of my practice is in photography. I am currently working on a series of new photographs that combine painting, collage, and sculpture. I am interested in creating organic forms by layering and stacking imagery, texture, and color. Using photography allows me to create the illusion of space and enhance the tactile nature of the forms that I create. Photography also gives me the freedom to distort the scale of my forms.

Recently, I began to collaborate with my husband on a series of sculptures which are 3-D versions of my collages. We sand cast the sculptures at the beach with the help of our two children. It is such a thrill to see something originally created in 2-D come to life as a real-life sculpture. It is also fun to collaborate with my husband and family in this way.

Display is the overarching theme in my work as I think the idea of display is what draws me to work with photography again and again. My goal is to create work that engages a large audience, not just art-minded folks. I love the idea of someone having a physical or spiritual reaction when experiencing my work.

I am inspired by sculptural forms I come across in nature and everyday urban life. I am a southern California native, so the immersion of the natural and urban environment is very familiar to me.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
For me, a successful artist is a person who has a continuing commitment to making work. Being an artist is difficult, I didn’t get into it to make money. I do it because it challenges me and gives me a great amount of joy. It also drives me crazy at times too, but that’s what keeps things interesting. I rely on my village of artists’ friends and my husband to keep me focused when I feel like I want to give up. I also feel lucky to have a great job teaching art to kids, and this adds another layer of appreciation for what I do. Teaching is a daily reminder to not take myself so seriously and to not be afraid to try out new things in the studio. Younger people have no fear when they make art – they inspire me greatly.

When I feel particularly uninspired, I like to look at the work of Agnes Martin, Etel Adnan, Sally Mann, Barbara Kasten, Henry Moore, and Richard Artschwager. I watch the Sally Mann documentary at least twice a year – I admire her lifestyle and her process.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can visit my website to see my work. I also post in process pictures of my work on Instagram. I am currently working on a book. I also post announcements of upcoming shows on my website and insta account.

The best way to support artists is to buy their work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Pages by Carly Steward

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