Curators' Statements

Stephen Althouse

Miami-Dade Cultural Center, Auditorium Gallery, Main Library, Miami, Florida
TOOLS and SHROUDS
Recent works by
S T E P H E N A LT H O U S E
June 18 – September 3, 2005

The majority of the exhibited images by Miami artist/photographer Stephen Althouse were created during his 2003-2004 residency in Belgium as the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship to create new photographic-digital artwork. Hosted by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Liège, Belgium as an artist-in-residence, he was awarded additional grants from Epson-Seiko Digital Printers and Hahnemühle Fine Art Papers of Germany.

As an adolescent growing up in the farmlands of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Stephen Althouse developed a deep appreciation for the honest, simple, and solid relationships formed between the working people and their land, their animals, their equipment, the seasons, and the passage of time. He also witnessed the economic uncertainties of the neighboring county as its steel and coal industry gradually weakened and died. He received Quaker schooling which encouraged the development of deep personal and private spirituality. Although he has lived in cosmopolitan Miami for almost 30 years and is involved in frequent international travel, the influences of his rural childhood continue to surface in his artwork.

While residing and creating art in Belgium, Althouse found that this was not only an experience in a different country, but for him it seemed like a revisit back to an earlier time period of his life. Living in a small town surrounded by farmland, and being close to an industrial steel manufacturing city in serious economic decline, Althouse was constantly reminded of his childhood. The similarities of the environment and the values and mannerisms of his Belgian acquaintances with those of his Pennsylvania upbringing are apparent influences upon the creation of his recent art. His fascination with tools and implements, and the patinas and textures which relate to their histories are evident throughout the works in this exhibition. Althouse’s images involve mystery and spirituality through his usage of metaphoric symbols to create a poetic visual language which is not possible, nor intended to be interpreted literally. Latin phrases written in Braille deliberately add to the indecipherable quality of his work.

Althouse arranges personal symbolic objects into assemblages which visually express his ideas and emotions. He photographs his assemblages using view cameras which use 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 inch film. After scanning his negatives, he digitally manipulates and adds subtle elements to the images before making a finished digital print. Having expertise in traditional darkroom printing, Althouse is now recognized in the field for his ability to produce exquisitely rich and highly stable large-scale black and white digital prints. Highly prized international corporate grants support the continued development of his fine art digital printing techniques.

Stephen Althouse is the Chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Barry University in Miami where he holds a faculty position as Professor of Photography, and was awarded a sabbatical leave by the University in support of his Fulbright Grant. His artwork has been acquisitioned into major museum collections in North America, South America, and Europe

Barbara N. Young
Exhibition Curator, Art Services, Miami-Dade Cultural Center Main Library

Bridle, 2003
Blinder Bridle, 2003
Brick and Ivy, 2003
Belgian Chisel, 2003
Belgian Shears, 2003
Adjustable Wrench, 2003
Clamps, 2003
Clamps and Shroud, 2003
Nail and String, 2003
Royal Spindle, 2003
Axe and Tapestry, 2003
Inlay, 2003
Hammer with Braille, 2003
Massacre Ardennais, 2003
Washboard, 2003
Autumn Plant, 2003
Iron roses, 2004
Rake, 2004
Reins and bit, 2003
Broken Cello, 2005
Sacred Tongs, 2004
Closed Tongs, 2004
Saw, 2003
Axe, Wood, and Shroud, 2003

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