As a successful independent artist I always have appreciated my teachers and mentors from elementary school through college. They have always produced motivation and induced inspiration and creativity. I owe a lot of my success to these wonderful people in my life.
Apparently most artists do. One in particular Ryan Steiskal. Steiskal is an emerging artist who recently graduated from UW Oshkosh. He says, “My experience (at UW Oshkosh) has been great! I came from a very small town with an even smaller art community…all of the professors I’ve had in the art department have helped me develop into a better artist. Each one has his or her own unique trait that they bring to the table and I feel that experiencing that diversity has made me a more rounded artist.”
Not only have professors encouraged Steiskal but from his small town interested in mostly “wildlife paintings and lawn ornaments made of old farm equipment” Steiskal was sought after in high school because of his work. “I never really identified myself as an artist until my senior year of high school. I always took art classes in school but it was something about that year that made people start talking about my work. It wasn’t like I was a sensation or anything but people I wouldn’t normally talk to would go out of their way to talk to me about my work and how it make them fell. I was a pretty shy kid, so this meant a great deal to me. It was like I found my voice, a way to communicate and connect with the world. From then on pursuing art was the only thing that made sense.”
Steiskal has been working on a series of work whose subject matter, to the naked eye may seem fairly ordinary. The pear, while it may be a delicious fruit has also been used frequently in still lifes by classic painters such as Caravaggio. To Steiskal it is used to symbolize an “artistic ideal”. While Steiskal’s recent work is a loose self-narrative, dealing with his struggle to find his identify as an artist, the repetitious use of the pear throughout his work is seen as an obsession with trying to understand and create the ideal piece. Ryan also references other artists striving to achieve the ideal in his work by showing the competitive nature of some artists or the uniform nature of a functioning art community.
You can see clearly that in his sculpture piece Steiskal uses the pear form obsessively with a capital O, maybe even in all upper case letters. But seeing Steiskal work on his projects first hand myself, I know that this is his process. While Steiskal may be trying to reach the ideal, you can see in this work that his philosophy combined with his craftsmanship is IDEAL.
Here I will leave you with Steiskal’s artist statement and ask that you stop by the Polk Library at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where you will find Steiskal’s Pear Series beginning April 1, 2015.
My pear series is the exploration of a subject and image repeatedly, but developing each image differently in order to give each one a unique characteristic. While the images and sculptures often reference personal experiences of some of the people in my life, the work as a whole traces a loose self-narrative that addresses my neurotic behavior as an artist. The state of both the subject and the medium in which it is depicted are intentionally seen as tattered and decayed in order to suggest that the way I work is border lining towards an unhealthy obsession. Most of the images are presented as still lives but with surreal elements and subtle, distinctive details that are meant to invoke the viewer’s curiosity and engage him or her on an intimate level.