#ARThags: Stephen Mead’s art celebrates the LGBTQI community pre-Stonewall

Stephen Mead art

In our new #ARThags series of showcased indie artists, Stephen Mead creates collages of LGBTQI people, organisations and allies pre-Stonewall.

Describe your art in less than 100 words…

Stephen Mead: I’m a published outsider artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. As an artist I am basically self-taught. In my early twenties, not knowing what else to do and thinking I might need some sort of structure/goal/community, I became a college art major but by the early part of my second year I was really finding it restrictive to creativity. What I do artistically is try to give a voice of emotional/spiritual expressionism to what images/themes have been welling within.

Choose 3-5 pieces you really like…

I selected these images since they represent my most recent creative exploration (montages), and series, an homage to LGBTQI individuals, couples, organisations, and allies (in the context of what they were often up against), all predominantly pre-Stonewall.

Drs. Frieda Fraser and Edith Bickerton Williams, All Creatures Small and Great, Love is Lord Forsooth

Drs. Frieda Fraser and Edith Bickerton Williams were skilled women, intelligent salt-of-the-earth women, taking care of one another with a reverence and sanctity regarding nature and our four-footed friends.

Bet Van Beeren, Come Let’s Meet Up at Cafe ‘t Mandje

What a person! Bet Van Beeren ran her own café, a meeting ground for other LGBT folks, and her radiant spirit came through her flesh with such freshness, strength, character and love of life.

Bryher and H.D. (Annie Winifred Ellerman and Hilda Doolittle), Two hearts, Two Minds

These were women of beauty in the strong classical sense, both outside and within. Art was a shared vocation, and the two were supportive of their passions; that sort of bond can’t but be admired and hoped for.

Alice French and Jane Crawford, Our Vines have such Strong Roots

Alice French and Jane Crawford were childhood friends who set up house together, sharing their lives except for Jane’s four year marriage. The Alice French house was a type of salon in its day, and the two women were suffragette role models.

Anton (Anna) Prinner, Becoming One with Art

I love how much strength this person must have had to be true to the authentic self, not only by attire but creating an archetypal kind of work that was profoundly humane.

What do you love to capture/reveal/explore in your art?

The spiritual/emotional core of a subject is one I gravitate to by instinct. The media have shifted over time (from pastels to watercolour pencil to oils/acrylics to mixed media/collage work, and even film/music/sound). However, with this series I am discovering a lot of echoes from my watercolours of a decade or so ago in the transparency, bleeding, and superimposition.

Some say creating art can be solitary. What do you say?

Aside from an attempt at a collaboration or two, I do much better creating in solitude. Creating in a classroom setting with a professor watching me added to bad nerves/self-consciousness and the inability to feel free. Other artists are able to do quite well/feel comfortable working around others, even in front of an audience, say at some Pleine Aire art fair. But I need a great deal of aloneness in order to go in, as if into deep meditation. As I have gotten older I have come to admit that there is at least a fraction of loneliness in this… a sense of “what am I doing and why” when others are engaged in social pursuits/recreations. But to be true to the introvert that is core to my nature (and not necessarily easy for another to live with) I know I get more energy by doing art than by being at social gatherings like parties where I am picking up on too much information/conflicts/emotional pulling between others.

Creativity vs. cost of living – any artist tips to share?

Keep the day job. But if you are given an opportunity to make more money by doing something that will take time away from art, really ask yourself… will that be short-term? Will that be good for you and your art… or will you wind up with a sense of unhappiness and missing the art?

What are your thoughts on art’s place in society?

Art has always had a place in society as a sort of mirror or place to reflect, and acts as a means to help us open up to one another, even if with lively debates. Unfortunately “society” in a political sense does not necessarily see the connectivity and value in this. Depending on countries and cultures and the context of time there will always be large swathes oblivious to how much art is within daily existence, just as there will be also be large swathes with an impetus to do art.

Any upcoming projects or things you’re working on right now?

In addition to the current LGBTQI nostalgia series I keep doing “one-off” pieces as social comment/satire of the current political climate in America. To counteract that – because I kind of feel it’s toxic, odious, like I want to scrub myself in hot water afterward – I am doing another series based on valentines, incorporating the curves of lovers within the actual anatomical curves of the human heart.

Where can people find out more about you?

These are taken from my Poetry On the Line weebly page, Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead. You can check out my published work on Amazon, my Soundcloud for free listening, my Youtube presence, my T-shirt art, and my downloadable music on CD Baby.

ARTISTS: If you would like to be featured on Mookychick, please visit our #ARThags artist submissions page.