Willie Stewart

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Artist Statement

I was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, on December 30, 1982. My family were members of

The Brothers of Iron, an outlaw motorcycle club, who were later incorporated into the Grim

Reapers. I was raised by my great-grandmother Doris, a seamstress, and was homeschooled by

my grandmother Susan, a truck-stop waitress. On weekdays I went to work with my

grandmother, where I played Dungeons and Dragons with the children of other waitresses. On

weekends, when my mother, Heidi, had free time, she took me to concerts. Together we saw the

Melvins and Kiss at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee. In my teenage years, the subculture

music and films of the 80’s and 90’s inspired me. After high school, I took a ten year academic

break, during which time I studied analog electronics, played guitar professionally with Yoko

Ono, and spent four years as a commercial display artist, before returning to Cooper Union to

complete my Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree.

My work focuses on objects related to the subcultural images of my past. I am fascinated

how combinations of these objects can produce a veneer that constructs a sincere identity outside

of irony. I am influenced by séances, Parker Brother’s Ouija board as a teenage icon, aura

photography, messages recorded backwards, and my teenage experiences with music and film. In

order to understand the phenomena manifest within objects, I deploy lenses of parapsychology,

the investigation of paranormal phenomena, related to telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance,

psychokinesis, and near-death experiences. I am interested in the parapsychological idea that

everyday objects can contain paranormal and psychic energy.

With sculpture, video, and installation I present themes ranging from the terrestrial to the

extraterrestrial, the artistic to the ethnographic, giving form to work that underscores an object’s

identity and inherent meaning. I create sites that are important to my personal narrative, while

blurring lines of fact and fiction. Exploring the phenomenon of subculture itself, these works are

statements that create an experience between the periphery and the core that can vibrate in a web

of open-ended conclusions.

 

 

Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

2018
MFA, Yale University, New Haven, CT

2016
BFA, The Cooper Union, New York, NY

2014
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2017
Grand Ole Opera, (with Brent Stewart), Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY

2016
House on Fascination Street, Motel, Brooklyn, NY
Runners, (with Brent Stewart), Seed Space, Nashville, TN

2015
Six Flags Part 2, 41 Cooper Gallery, New York, NY

2014
The Love You Withhold is the Pain that You Carry, Kijidome, Boston, MA

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2017
Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:, 630 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY

2016
Strategies in the Geometry of Homecoming, Torrance Shipman, Brooklyn, NY

2015
Feelers, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA
Strangers Forming a Group Waiting to Kiss, Motel, Brooklyn, NY
Sounds Like, Herron College of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Summer Reading, ZieherSmith, Nashville, TN

2014
HappyLand, SkowheganPERFORMS, Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, NY
Loose Noose, ZieherSmith, Nashville, TN

FILM FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS

2017
Fylde Film Showcase, The Regent, Blackpool, UK
20/92, Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia, PA

2016
Freebird, (with Brent Stewart), Zeitgeist, Nashville, TN

2015
Deep Fun Play House, Seed Space, Nashville, TN

2013
Nashville Film Festival, Nashville, TN

2012
Louisville International Film Festival, Louisville, KY

AWARDS AND HONORS

2016
Elliot Lash Memorial Prize

2015
Yip Harburg Foundation Award

2014
Alex Katz Fellowship

2013
Independent Spirit Award, Nashville Film Festival

RESIDENCIES

2016
Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY