STEPHEN ALTHOUSE

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Silver Eye Center for Photography
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- TOOLS and SHROUDS -
by STEPHEN ALTHOUSE
May 11- June 4, 2005

The exhibited images by Miami artist Stephen Althouse represent a portion of a series created during his 2003-2004 residency in Belgium.  He was the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship to create new photographic-digital artwork as an artist-in-residence in Belgium, hosted by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Liège.  In conjunction with the Fulbright Fellowship, he was also awarded grants from Epson-Seiko Digital Printers and Hahnemühle Digital 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 tools, 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, Moravian and Mennonite 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 the Wallon (French speaking) region of Belgium he found that this was not only an experience in a different country, but for him it seemed like a revisit back to a different 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, mannerisms, and friendliness 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.

Although he uses photography as his primary creative medium, Althouse’s background is also in sculpture, and the sculptural practice of modifying and manipulating subject matter is carried over to his creation of photographic imagery.  He arranges personally symbolic objects into assemblages which visually express his ideas and emotions.  He photographs his assemblages using 4x5 inch black and white sheet film.  After scanning his negatives, he digitally manipulates and adds subtle elements to his images before making his 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 digital black and white inkjet prints, as is evident by his international grants supporting the development and refinement of his fine art digital printing techniques.

Stephen Althouse is the Chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Barry University, Miami, Florida where he holds a faculty position as Professor of Photography.  He frequently lectures on his photographic imagery and teaches in Paris, London, Madrid, and Ecuador.  His artwork is being acquisitioned into the major museum collections of North America, Europe, and South America.

 

 
All rights reserved. © Stephen Althouse