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Meet Kevin Stuart

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Stuart.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I don’t really think of people as being linear, I sort of think of people as dealing with things, letting go of things, reacting or engaging with things; people are new each day or that is, with people, stories don’t entirely begin or end. I think meaning or even just solving problems sort of comes through a relationship between people.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of a friend who passed away four years ago, and how that has sort of shaped how I’m thinking about people and relationships. I also have been kept alive by a drug for 21 years at this point, so for a long time, I’ve always realized that I’m dependent on other human beings, that we are really incredibly frail without one another.

I’ve always loved Chicago, I think the first time I saw a colour as being a colour was when I saw Lake Michigan for the first time. “That’s so blue.”

Please tell us about your art.
I like to think that I do paintings of people that don’t reduce people to being a metaphor and presents people as a series of potentials and presents people as relational. Sort of like the realization you get from seeing someone on a train laughing at a text or someone sighing on the way to work; that you’re in something together despite not knowing exactly what that thing is.

I think I can sort of just describe what I’m doing as a kind of ritual at this point in relating to other people. The faces in the paintings are sourced from drawings of strangers. Usually, the images I’m building are based loosely on images of moments from relationships I have with people. Sometimes, the things I’m thinking about are like that time I got trapped on the side of the road with my brother, a hotdog party with friends, the guy carrying a new mop across the street with a bag, and in the bag a small dog was popping its head out, the person who gave me something to drink when my blood sugar was low and everything was closed, the weird traffic wizard, about a friend thinking over telling their crush about how they feel.

I try to make the strangers feel like old friends or people I know because in some weird way I do know them. We are sort of all together.

The colours are usually sourced from things that have to do with moments in time that are fleeting. The way the lake looks at a certain time of the day, a T-mobile store at 2 am around where I live, this stairwell I know.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
Conditions for everyone regardless of their occupation or activities outside of their labor have become much harder. A lot of problems that one faces while being a struggling artist have tons of intersections with people who are working class and in many cases are the exact same problems as many artists are working class.

Anything a city does for the working class will be beneficial to the art in that city. We need an organized labor-friendly city, we need a commitment to the people of the city. We need reinvestment in communities that have been neglected as a result of many pretty outright racist policies.  Art is a very human thing to do and I think if we want to see art and artists thrive, we should hope that having time to make things, having a community that encourages people to make things, is all encouraged by making life easier on everyday people.

It is critical artists recognize that their interests are with working class people and anyone who is of a group of people in this country that are marginalized or vulnerable.  It’s important artists realize that all of our struggles are inevitably linked with those around us. It is important for a city that is trying to create a cultural name for itself goes that route in order to create a movement.

If we make that work here, we can make it work anywhere, that’s what makes Chicago unique.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Send me an email and visit my studio! Kstuar@saic.edu stop on by! I’m in the studio most days and I’m not one to care if I’m interrupted and honestly, I’d prefer it.

I have a show at Carthage university with Jenn Dierdorf from Feb. 7-March 15, 2019.  The opening is 430-730 on February 7th.

My website is Kevin-Stuart.com and I post pictures of me cooking socks, stuff I find and art at Kevin_might_insta_gram.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tom Van Eynde

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