John Steck Jr.
A Silver Memory
June 14, 2017 – July 4, 2017 

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Artist statement

John Steck Jr.: A Silver Memory




Nothing is permanent.


Most of my studio practice over the last five years has been focused on making photographs disappear over time. This project, titled Lament, was a way for me to draw attention to the ephemeral nature of photography and the memories it captures. By manipulating the image-making process of particular photographs from my archives, I allowed them to remain sensitive to light and disappear over time.



Light is a double-edged sword


The light that allows us to view photographs is the same light that will destroy them. My disappearing photographs share this same relationship to light as the first photographs ever made. The early inventors of the medium experimented tirelessly to stop their photographs sensitivity to light, whereas I welcome light’s promise of eventual nothingness.



Come to life, again.


My most recent experiments, titled In the Shadow of the Bloom, question how images can work in the exact opposite nature of my disappearing photographs. In this project, I place objects directly onto light-sensitive photo paper and allow the images to be made during the entirety of an exhibition. While active in the space, they are images that have not yet been fully formed. Every viewer becomes involved as the act of looking becomes the act of making.



Coming up roses.


The materials I use in these new experiments are mostly organic in nature, from earth samples to various floras. They are objects that are still breathing. While the image is forming, the materials are decaying and everything is in process. The molds and funguses attach themselves to the photo paper, imprinting and altering the surface. The final print offers insight into the purest form of light and life.




Watching my photographs slowly appear and disappear leave me to consider the fleeting impermanence of materials, objects, images and life itself, through a medium that is meant to act as a time capsule.



John Steck Jr.


John Steck Jr. is a visual artist from Chicago who received his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited across sixteen states as well as in Iceland, Hungary and Tokyo. His book Fragments, Volume One was selected as Best Books of 2010 on Recent publications include Rûm, Der Greif, Romka Magazine, Aint Bad Magazine, The Ephemeral, The Hand Magazine, Incandescent and LDOC. He has work in the Permanent Art Collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the DePaul Art Museum, both in Chicago. Steck was a finalist for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Fulbright Fellowship. He has attended artist residencies in Iceland and Ireland and is a current Artist in Resident at HATCH Projects (Chicago, IL). He has also recently attended the VU Artist Residency (Quebec City, Canada), the Latitude Artist Residency (Chicago, IL) and the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) where he was awarded a Fellowship Award. Steck is a current Adjunct Faculty at Waubonsee Community College and an Instructor of Fine Arts at Loyola University.

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