Steven Foutch

Artist Statement

I am a landscape artist at heart. My work explores the beauty of open space and the meditation that occurs when we find ourselves at its center. To a lesser extent, my work observes how our identity and understanding of the world is shaped by the landscapes that surround us.

I aim to create beautiful though melancholic images through color and mark making. Like a good country song, a sweet tune in tandem with a nagging sadness. My use of color and mark carries the former, while the solitary nature of rural landscape evokes the latter.

The rural Midwest can be insulating, both culturally and emotionally. While making my images I often think about what it means to be in the middle or from the middle. I invoke what it felt like to sit beside beauty and suffering in the months between an old friend’s sudden death and the birth of my first son. These paradoxical emotions reminded me then and now of my grandmother’s house and all the singular sunsets: explosions of color above the horizon, each one separating the celestial and the corporeal. This is what I am trying to communicate, the melancholy of the sublime.

As I print, there are thresholds too. One layer of ink, a stencil secured, some wood carved, another layer—these liminal states are resting places for contemplation on the image and its resolution. A universal struggle for artists is learning to recognize when something is done. For me, the work ends when taking an image further would muddy its expression. Only so many layers of ink can be applied before the paper gives way. As colors blend and compositions form, a fear emerges that the next layer might mar my labor. The acceptance of that final middle is where the image remains.