Wisdom Seat

My art practices and their associated bodies of work are anchored to iteration and, in turn, these iterations are often related to mirror symmetries. Moreover, in the deeper background of my art-making is my background in experiential learning, its theorization by my colleague and friend David A. Kolb, and, experiential learning’s role in adult development.

This ends up where it started for me: resonant with experiential learning as a reflective practice. In the case of my art this means I am an experiential artist, and, so am also a reflective artist, (now that this comes up in this exhibit.) Across all my artistic experiments my centering intent is have my work completed by its encounter with the sensitive and open minded viewer. with respect to this my work offers the virtuous circle of John Dewey’s sense of art necessarily seeking connection to the public, to the beholder, to the cultures and histories and experience brought to bear on a person’s experience of art, and, in Dewey’s sense of course this is all a reflective engagement.

At the same time, my approach is conceptual, although it is not so for the sake of calling attention to its concept, iteration. Iteration is used to manipulate a field of disorganized, seeming random, apparently chaotic, into conditions ripe enough to be organized by kaleidoscopic and other forms of repetition and mirroring. This alteration of the original field—think of a box with a bunch of stuff in it—is concretized in the subsequent digital manipulation of a photograph. Fundamentally, my artistic results come from creating the chaotic yet fulsome and ‘ready’ conditions for this manipulation. These set-ups of stuff are developed in boxes, and, with the camera pointing straight down, are captured and entered into the iterative work flow.

Homo Sapians has for several hundred thousand years been the pattern seeking, recognizing, shaping, species. I bank on this! Most times what I’m after is the viewer’s imagination. (Other times, with radially iterated work not entered here, I’m after their still point.) The possibilities for pareidolia, projection, story-making, and other instigations of seeing into and behind and through are some of the reflective moves my art seeks to make possible. I do not program the content. This means all the time viewers report seeing ‘things’ I have not seen myself.

This speaks to a third order of reflection, the one that can activate the archetypal discovery. Such psychological potentials are available in this artwork.

Stephen Calhoun
Wisdom Seat
iterated digital photograph printed on mahogany veneer