Steph Mantis — is a human being/making art
“Art is about changing what we see in our everyday lives and representing it in such a way that it gives us hope.” (Kehinde Wiley)
Art is incomplete without the peceptual and emotional involvement of the viewer (you). All interpretation is done in personal terms, there by adding meaning to the work.
(So thank you for looking and finding your way to my my work, and this digital representation of it/me.)
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, store displays, and wearable tech. Since 2015, I’ve taught product design and entrepreneurship courses at The New School. With almost all of my product licensed to a vast manufacturing and distribution partner, I have begun to shift my attention and time towards my studio practice.
I’m interested in making art of the things we overlook: the leftovers, the ubiquitous, the things we throw away, but which are proof of our existence. I think there is a particular energy and honesty to those entities, as they are typically natural, uncontrived gestures in everyday life. I try not to change the subject or distort its properties; rather, I find new perspectives that foreground its own intrinsic beauty.
I’m best 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. Another way to achieve this effect is through scale: presenting massive prints of food and other ephemera as seen through a microscope focuses attention on the familiar, and creates a space of abstraction that allows memory or experience to surface.
Across disciplines, I reframe the familiar to encourage the viewer to question their expectations and associations with the subject. I work to synthesis and materialize the intangible remnants of everyday life into experiences you can return to, hold, and share. By changing the representation of the everyday, I hope to gently coax you into a deeper consideration of what we produce and consume but don’t see.
— Steph Mantis
YOU & ME; US
There is no difference in the middle.