On view February 20 – March 28, 2017
Art reception on March 4th Saturday 6 – 8:30 pm
EBK Gallery [small works].
218 Pearl St.
One of my earliest memories is of playing with an empty camera.
I recall walking around our backyard with it, framing something, and clicking the shutter. The click was soothing, and feeling the vibration of the shutter in my fingertips was calming. Later, in college, with no money for film, I would also walk around with an empty camera. I was vaguely aware that I was not reacting to something I was seeing, but was pressing the shutter as a result of something I was feeling, moments of fleeting connectedness to where I was. Moments of feeling like I was part of something secret and immense. For obvious reasons, these were intensely private moments, since without film in the camera, the images could only be known to me. I still remember some of them.
In the early 1990’s, I found a way to describe these experiences in language borrowed from theology and religion. For a brief time it helped me justify or explain what the images “were about.” I showed them a little, first in Cambridge, then in Halifax and Toronto.
But despite and because of this justification, I had made a gross error. My error was that I had begun to make a project out of these ‘connections’, and had gone out seeking them. I had put the cart before the horse, looking for images that would make me feel something. I had become confused, and had begun thinking that moments of connectedness appear as a result of seeking them. It was as if those moments of connection were out there, waiting for me to discover them, and all I had to do was go and look for them. I had confused seeking with being. The images I was seeking were nowhere to be seen, because they didn’t exist. Those images would exist only after I had stopped looking for them. But I didn’t know that then. So by 1996, I stopped making art altogether. I literally packed it away.
As the years passed, I would occasionally try and pick it up again. I’d carry a camera for a few days but would get frustrated that I couldn’t seem to start any new body of work. I kept returning to those same landscapes again and again. Sometimes I would succeed in getting a picture that had something of the “connected” moment in it, but I came to realize that those images were not likely to mean anything to anyone else. If they did, it was only ever going to be accidental. So, after a day or two I would feel embarrassed and disappointed and would just put the camera back.
Then in the fall of 2004, I spent an afternoon with Sol LeWitt. We had spent some time in his studio and looking at the work of some of the many artists whose work Sol had acquired over the years. We were talking about our daughters, mostly, when he abruptly switched the conversation. He knew I had gone to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and so he asked me if I was still making work. I told him I had stopped a while ago and could not get restarted. I said that I didn’t seem able to do anything other than return to an early body of work – that I seemed to be able to do only one thing. It was then that he interrupted me. Closing his eyes as he spoke, he leaned back and said “Steve – just make the work you make. Don’t worry about it. It’s a good sign. It’s a good thing you can’t leave that work alone. It’s the way it should be. It means that it is actually yours.”
A lot of time has gone by since that conversation. In that time, I have finally come to terms with the fact that that the only art I can make is the art that I have only ever been able to make – records of very specific, fleeting moments of connectedness – sometimes in the most banal and sterile places. More importantly, I now realize that there is no hope of making the images I need to make unless I can first learn how to first ‘be’. I have to be, before I can hope to see.
There are eight images in this exhibition. Seven of them come from the period 1988-1996. One of them was taken two months ago.
I am deeply grateful to have been given the chance to show them. S.A.H.
44 x 106
click on an image to enlarge or forward through
CV / Resume
2017 Hermes, Halifax
2017 EBK Gallery, Hartford CT
1995 Ad Limina, Eye Level Gallery, Halifax
1994 Et Lux Perpetua Eis, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax
1993 Immediate Apprehensions (B), Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax
1992 Immediate Apprehensions (A), Harvard University, Cambridge MA
Group Exhibitions – SELECTED
1995 Crosscurrents, Gallery 44, Toronto
1993 Symbolics, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax
1992 Small, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax
1991 The Ugly, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University
1988 Hart House, Barnike Gallery, Toronto
1995 Sculpture Magazine
1994 C Magazine
1994 Canadian Art
1992 Harvard Divinity Bulletin
Reinke Collection, Chicago
Wilson-Foote Collection, Boston
Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton Ontario
Provincial Art Bank, Province of Nova Scotia, Cultural Affairs, Halifax
1994 MFA, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
1992 MTS, Harvard Divinity School
1989 BA, University of Toronto