Photo of Stephen Cowles

Stephen Cowles

Eaton Rapids, MI, United States

Brain, Paint, Surface, and other things that support the latter. The very first dream I can remember having was when I was about 4 years old. I was stuck inside of a print by Robert Rauschenberg. My Father was an art collector and a very capable yet humble artist in his own regard. He had some framed pieces stored in the upstairs of our house in a room that would eventually be remodeled into a bathroom for my sister and me. As an explorative toddler, I would often travel to that dark room with the daylight reaching the far wall from a window on the North side of the house. This narrow ray of light revealed a framed ink on white paper drawing of a distorted centaur like woman leaning into a window on the only wall in a jagged house. This is how I remember it now as I reflect and in the case of the first dream I can remember having I was there in a three-dimensional world as an observer of silent and mysterious surroundings. I awoke from my parent’s bed on an evening in the summertime, blinds partially closed and a feeling of loneliness and confused discovery. The first thing I can remember my Dad showing me how to draw was a circle horse. It was as it sounds a quick drawing of a horse made with circles drawn from a pen or pencil, maybe in my pre-adolescent stage a crayon or marker. These crude and simplistic representations may have very well have developed my general understanding of the world around me. I have often wondered if any invention exists that could photocopy the process in which your brain recognizes everything you see, hear, and feel. For example, if I look at a molded baseboard trim, do I see that for what it is, or do I associate it with blocks stacked up and leaning staggered? Do I think of mountains or old library books? Do I think of carpenter ants crawling from the gap underneath? If in the first micro-second of realization, if it could be printed out from a slit in the back of your head, would I be able to understand that a shadowy jackknife salute with salt and pepper ears and a straight-line smile, was in fact a molded baseboard trim, developing into my direct realization. Here are some possible reasons for my creations: Clouds, Shadows, accidents, emotions, limited means of creation, dark days, relaxed moments, feelings that you only have a few minutes, then feeling where you have as much time as you want. Lucid, worn down, pickled, conservative, destructive, aloof, on a tangent, on a roll, waste of hours, deflated sensation, exclusion of self from a normal framework, inclusion of some and not sure if everything is OK. Anxious and overzealous, wishes and cigarettes and wine and fumes. Rock and roll radio station, the swan songs of memorable institutions crumbling quickly into oblivion. Finding the meaning in nothing yet created, and discovering the meaning as shapes and colors arise in the moments near and far. Near meaning the stages of process, Far being the various angles of interpretation for as long as the creation exists. I now live in a small town on the river where I do most of my work in the garage.

Stephen's ArtPrize Entries

These are Stephen's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.

  • Photo of Love Against Madness

    Love Against Madness

    2017 ArtPrize Entry Stephen Cowles
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