John A. Stevens (b. 1991) was raised and educated in the Midwest. After earning a degree in English Literature and Philosophy from William Jewell College in 2013, he moved to New York to pursue a career in the arts. While in NYC, Stevens developed a practice in photography and traditional media and began distributing his work in self-published books and zines. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, a program that bridges the gap between his theoretical writing and conceptual art practices. His work has been exhibited and collected by several galleries and art institutions across the United States.
Stevens’ work hijacks a modernist visual vocabulary to explore contemporary ideas of the postmodern subject as a visual ‘body’ within a scopic and spectral society. In his academic research as well as his visual work, Stevens has focused on how the use of geometry by modernist artists and architects prefigured the contemporary western subject within the panoptic and indexical systems that have matured under the global and technological programs of modernity. Basing his visual aesthetic on these conceptual developments, Stevens’ work is ultimately an exploration of his own identity and the nebulous afflictions it suffers under the dynamic influences of contemporary society.
Much of his photographic work takes as its focus the binary role of natural and artificial lighting, quite literally illuminating the distinction between the materiality of contemporary social norms and the endangered natural environment surrounding its tenuous, urban borders. Stevens’ art on paper takes from his interests in architecture, technical drawing, and neologism; synthesizing an artistic subject that resists an objective signification while playing with perceptions of dimension and space.
2018 “No Future: A Memorial” Sculpture and curatorial selection | Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection
2017 Filter Photo Festival: “The Body is Merely the Apparition of a Framework” Photography and curatorial selection of artists’ books | Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection
2017 “Millennial Millionaires and the Survivor’s Club” | LITHIUM, Chicago, IL
2017 “Post/Natural” Curated by Kayla Anderson | Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection, Chicago, IL
2017 “Declarations of Contemporary” | Hairpin Arts Center, Chicago, IL
2017 “How To Get Read” | Visual and Critical Studies Symposium at SAIC, Chicago, IL
2016 “Open Studio Night” at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago
2016 “New Media” by DAEMON (daem.onl) Curated by Jon Springs | Sulfer Studios, Savannah, GA
2015 “Brooklyn Zine Festival” | Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY.
2016 “The Last Days of Pompeii” Apoecides | Directed by Rumi Missabu (aka. James Bartlett) | Lincoln Center | New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium | New York, NY
2015 “The Wisdom of The Sands” Boyfriend No. 1 & The King’s Son | Directed by Rumi Missabu (aka. James Bartlett) | Judson Memorial Church | New York, NY
Editorial: Intro to “Inferno” photographs by Daniel Zvereff
Editorial: “Masters of Discipline” for Steady Magazine
Editorial: “Stasis & Static” for Steady Magazine
Art Publications & Collection Holdings:
“Canon” 20pp. 2017 | Collected by The School of The Art Institute of Chicago MAVCS
“In/Finite” 20pp. 2016 | Collected by the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection
“Death’s Head” 9pp. 2016
“Urbstract” 9pp. Foldout 2015 | Collected by the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection
“One In Woods” 12pp. 2015 | Collected by the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection
“Winter Aesthetic” 16pp. 2015 | Collected by the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection
“Unfortunately, I Was Dead” 24pp. 2015 | Collected by the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection
“All My Eyes See” 8 panels 2015
The Breaking Shell takes its name from Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Pain” from The Prophet. “Your pain is the breaking of the shell which encloses your understanding.”
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