Artist of the Week: Stephen Zerbe

Stephen Zerbe was born in 1986 in Minnesota. He currently lives and works in NYC.

303128_796576587367_101961866_nTell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Hey I’m Stephen, I run a business in the fine arts in NYC.

Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why?
Tumblr– best combination of art, social activism, sex imagery, news reports on animals and nature, fashion, music videos, and jokes.
Ubu– great archive of video art.
Amazon wishlists—great place to keep track of books and some tools.

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How has living in New York affected your art practice? There are no alleyways here, so everyone’s garbage is front and center. A lot of material is available to pick through.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Vegetables, horror vacui, music (always), textures of product packaging, everything non-binary.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Recent and ongoing: series of paintings made from discarded flatscreen tv boxes. Another series of fabric gradients and different items of clothing transitioning into each other.

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If you were a drink what drink would you be? Frozen coffee liquor combo crunk stimulant.

What artists are you interested in right now? Evan Robarts, Hundertwasser, Sterling Ruby, Arman, Vija Celmins, Tala Madani, Anthony Goicolea, Pentti Monkkonen, Brad Troemel, and Phil Ashley.

IMG_0418Tell us about your work process and how it develops. It’s best described as a growth. It’s hard to observe change taking place or new pieces being created but after a while there are just a lot of works around that can be grouped into themed bodies. I have to be constantly purging the studio of materials and old paintings and sculptures or I would be overrun by the accumulation. Many collecting activities are taking place so I’ll often have an element for a new work with me coming home from a job or at the end of the night. For example, a piece of plastic, a goblet, the ripped graphic off a shopping bag, a soda can with a logo involving leaves or large illustrated areas.

How long have you lived in New York and what brought you there? Since 2010—after graduating from SCAD, came here for work and to be with friends.

IMG_0366What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? First, to accidentally be triggered into thinking about a bunch of introspective stuff (quote) “unrelated” to the art. Then, to have their day measurably improved by the quality of craftsmanship I hope to provide. Lastly, to feel slightly scared but open to new possibilities. I would love to see someone’s sexual orientation just completely change.

What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? In the city: having a picnic on a blanket in prospect or rockaway. The world: Southern France or anywhere outside and close to the sun. I would like to not wear shoes.

Describe your current studio or workspace. Just moved back into the extra room in my loft space in Bushwick where I’ve been living for 5 years. Tall ceilings, mountain of tools, a homemade shower, tons of windows. I can see the WTC from my bed. Everything from walls to furniture custom made.

IMG_0686What were you like in high school? In a punk band, in tons of clubs and extracurriculars, and always falling asleep during class.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work?
Best: incredulous skepticism (“oh no he didn’t” but liking it/getting a smile with a cocked eyebrow). Ideally simultaneous praise and condemnation.

Worst: dismissive derision (nausea or the desire to forget instantly) thinking it’s juvenile or unconsidered if I hide the process, creating the illusion. Or just not noticing.

What are you reading right now? “Life Aboard the USS George H W Bush”

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