Briefly describe the work you do.
I make large provisional sculptures and paintings that operate in the area where art history and my personal background overlap.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
Ultimately my work is a reflection on identity and art history viewed through the lens of the South-Side of Chicago. Raised in a middle-class family, these experiences continue to shape my work. The materials, tools, techniques, and palette choices are a direct reflection of this history. I am aiming to capture a duality between the abject and the ironic. In the work, references to alcoholism, gun violence, and mourning run parallel with absurdity and humor.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
In that sense, I have a pretty traditional studio practice. I arrive in the morning, have coffee and read before I start working. Photographing work, studio visits, writing and responding to emails usually come later in the day. I am currently working in a barn with a large garden so at times it can be isolating and yet placid.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Right now I am on faculty at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, so teaching is becoming a rewarding component of my practice, much more so than I ever expected. Also at the suggestion of some great people, I started writing about my own work and that exercise has been invaluable.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I really enjoy working in the morning. I find having a set schedule in the studio works best for me, the discipline keeps me focused and productive.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I initially began just making abstract paintings and small collages. That evolved into making sculptures informed by the paintings. Now the sculptures usually come first and then the paintings. Although deriving content from the heavy emphasis on materials has remained a constant.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My personal history has probably had the greatest impact on my work; where I grew up, my parents etc. but I like to sample from a broad range of vocabularies. Whether it is literature, poetry, popular culture, specific artists, human sexuality and domesticity, they all seem to play a recurring role.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Not really. I listen and play a lot of music but I find this challenging and too much fun to want to pursue anything.
Born 1987. Eric Stefanski is an artist that lives and works in Chicago IL. and Boston MA. He holds a BS from DePaul University, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a MFA from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He has exhibited widely throughout the United States and his work is held in numerous public and private collections. He is currently on faculty at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts and on staff at the Boston Society of Architects.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.