“Art is about changing what we see in our everyday lives and representing it in such a way that it gives us hope.”
Things I am proud of:
- Animal Butt Magnets
- Forever Pizza
- Designing the exhibit for the World’s Largest Collection of Pizza Boxes
- My emerging body of microscopic photography and video work
- Earning a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
- Marrying my friends, i.e. being a wedding officiant (let’s talk about love, y’all!)
Lately, I’ve been working on a business:
My family’s pizzeria Pizza By Alex in Biddeford, Maine-- my hometown. (Covid had many surprises for us all, this was mine.)
Basically, I’m a human being, making, thinking, reframing, sharing, and loving with high hopes of inspiring the same in others. I believe we can acheive this through objects, spaces, and relationships.
(and here’s the long narrative version, should you be into that)
Born and raised in Maine, I started my education at Pratt Institute in NYC as a graphic designer, but graduated as an industrial designer. I’ve primarily worked for myself, and have designed about a dozen products currently out in the world, most notably “animal butt magnets” which are licensed to Kikkerland Design. I’ve also worked on exhibitions, retail displays, and wearable tech. From 2015-2018, I taught product design and entrepreneurship courses at The New School, and I guest crit various design classes and offer workshops occasionally.
Ultimately, I’m interested in making meaning of the things we overlook: the leftovers, the ubiquitous, the things we throw away that are proof of our existence. I think there is a particular energy and honesty to those entities, as they are extended, uncontrived gestures of everyday life. “Butt magnets” were born in this vein; I had been using their heads for my pack rack, and just never threw away the chopped off butts.
I’m probably most known for a piece called “Forever Pizza.” It’s a slice of pizza encased in a block of resin, (forever.) Growing up in a pizzeria in Maine informed my love for the food, and the work is an exploration of nostalgia and an experiment in memory. If leftovers are the conceptual through line of my work, pizza is my personal iteration: the leftover of my childhood.
Suspending something in resin tells people it’s worth saving, worth looking at, remembering; honoring. Encasing creates permanence and resonance, and is a practice and phenomenon humans have explored for millennia. If life is a choose your own adventure, create your own artifact.
Microscopes are magic. Seriously though, they’re literally instruments of light and have become the ultimate embodiment of meditation for me. In order to fully “see” my subject, I have to focus and let go over and over again. Some scientists think this process puts the participant into a flow state. My goal is to consolidate and offer my personal experience; to make art that offers that same experience of wonder, resonance, and beauty.
When I maintain this practice, the world seems more incredible and serendipitous, and I think it genuinely makes me happier. I think the world is more beautiful because of microscopes. You don’t have to agree, but I hope you find your own source of beauty. Beauty is an expression of presence, an introduction to joy, and something every human should experience.
— Steph Mantis
YOU & ME; US
There is no difference in the middle.