An explosion of vivid colors, tangled knots of lines and layered shapes cover the walls of the Falk Gallery as Christopher Newport University’s Department of Fine Art and Art History welcomed Steven Pearson and his “The Sum of Its Parts” exhibition.
“We are all subject to a flood of information on a daily, if not hourly, basis via a variety of technological means: emails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, online newspapers, countless websites, as well as television and radio,” Pearson said in his “Artist Statement.” “I’ve become interested in how our ability to receive and assimilate a myriad of information on a constant basis can be reflected in a 2-dimensional format.”
Using acrylic, spray paint, marker, pen and various other mediums, “The Sum of Its Parts” highlights the use of contrasting colors, which encourages the viewer to move around and experience the excitement of the exhibit.
“A harmonious palette suggests rest and peace, and a contrasting palette suggests motion and conflict and can be more dynamic,” Pearson said. “Each has its uses and each can be quite effective, but I try to use my composition and color to reflect the world I experience and live in. It’s hectic, chaotic, crazy, complex, but somehow managed and controlled.”
Pearson, Associate Professor of the Art and Art History Department at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, always had the drive to paint but limited resources to pursue this passion.
“I had good grades, but was poor, so wasn’t given the college talk,” said Pearson. “So I joined the Navy and went to boot-camp six days after graduation.”
At the end of his enlistment, Steven attended The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY as an Art Education Major. However, more developed paintings combined with a lack of interest in working with third graders inspired Pearson to reevaluate his major.
“I made the decision to switch to Studio Art as my major and focus on being a painter,” Steven said. “It was the best decision I have ever made. It’s nice to be able to do what you love.”
After receiving his Master in Fine Arts, Pearson started teaching at McDaniel, where he currently teaches and creates his pieces.
“I have a studio set up on campus and I have one in Baltimore as well,” Pearson said. “I paint before classes, between classes, after classes, at night, on weekends. Basically I don’t do much else.”
Pearson gets his inspiration from his paint and relies on intuition as well as planned moments in his art. While many artists feel the pressure of producing an awe-inspiring work of genius, Pearson tries not to think of those stressors.
“I don’t want to go into the studio thinking each painting has to be a masterpiece. To me, that is a recipe for disaster,” said Pearson. “Of course you always have it in the back of your head that you hope people like your work, but ultimately, you can’t control that. All you can control is how you feel about what your work does or says, and you hope you’ve learned enough about art to make the decisions necessary to create a successful piece.”
Symmetry and the color palette of comic book heroes and villains inspired the multiple compositions of “The Sum of Its Parts.”
“The heroes and villains of comics are often dressed in costumes of complementary or contrasting colors,” Pearson said. “It makes me search for the similarities and differences in the characters themselves, but ultimately drives my work to include subtle shifts and differences in the symmetrically composed paintings. I like to throw in little anomalies that might slow the viewer down and cause them to seek out the differences in the paintings.”
During his childhood, Steven liked Captain Marvel and claims to have been the only kid to do so. Today, however, his favorites include some of the comic staples.
“I think now I alternate between Wolverine, Batman and Spiderman,” Steven said. “They each have their own demons and struggle to find that line between good and evil, more so with Batman and Wolverine. I think that is closer to reality; the line between good and evil can be nebulous and tricky, but important to maintain and be aware of.”
“The Sum of Its Parts” is currently featured in the Falk Gallery in the Ferguson Center for the Arts through Feb. 25.