Objects of Intention

Photographs by Stephen Althouse

Black-Sanderson Gallery, through May 2021

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S. Althouse, The Five Talents II

The Five Talents II, 2019

Sculptor-photographer Stephen Althouse begins with art pieces he creates using man-made objects, cloth, tools, and simple farm machinery. He then records images of them using large format film cameras and highly specialized printing and development processes. The resulting prints are quite large (up to 9 feet wide), and display exquisite detail and rich tones, commanding a sculptural presence. These mystic, almost sacred depictions of the human experience are further enriched by the artist through the addition of deftly embedded messages in the images themselves.

“Like so many artists across time, I feel compelled to portray aspects of the human race,” he states. “I utilize old implements as depictions of ourselves rather than making literal portrayals of people. The relics and tools that I choose remind me of the paradoxes of our species, and some imply the valor of individuals facing lives of relentless uncertainty. Intertwined within these are representations of people, thoughts, and experiences of my own life.”

Often contrasting these objects with cloth wrappings or shrouds, Althouse’s facility as a photographer allows him to elevate simple objects to an almost spiritual sensibility through a deft use of composition, lighting, and printing techniques. The resulting large-scale minimalist images reflect his attachment to his upbringing in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, as well as his fascination with the vast variety of cultures he has encountered on his many travels throughout the world. The works featured in Objects of Intention, however, primarily reflect his ongoing fascination with his Amish neighbors, whose farms surround his home.

“My artwork provides a personal way for me to express my feelings of mystery about humankind,” he further states. “It allows me to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, ponder our contradictions, and subtly bestow upon us a small degree of nobleness.”

Stephen Althouse began as a sculptor, often using found objects to create new artwork. He studied at Rollins College, Florida; Temple University, Pennsylvania; and Tyler School of Art, Pennsylvania. He holds a BFA (University Miami, FL) and an MFA (Virginia Commonwealth University) in Sculpture. He now uses his skills as a sculptor in arranging and modifying the tools and other artifacts he chooses as his subjects. He was a professor of Fine Art at Barry University, has lectured internationally, and is the recipient of multiple grants for his work, including a Fulbright Research Fellowship. He currently resides in central Pennsylvania.