Review Me: Steven Hughart: A Coping Mechanism
Your Art Business Home
Sign in
Review Me - Logo
Your Art Business Home
Sign in


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Steven Hughart: A Coping Mechanism

Steven, thank you very much for giving us this time to learn more about your art career and artwork through my interview. Tell us about your artistic background story and if there was a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a visual artist.

My art background started at a very young age. I was born in the 80’s and there wasn’t a whole lot to do where I’m from. I remember as a young child just drawing and coloring all the time. The older I grew, the more I wanted to improve my technique of drawing so I would sit and draw cartoon characters and trace comic book characters for hours. Marvel’s Wolverine was my favorite to translate from tracing to freehand. I have always had a knack for drawing what I see as opposed to drawing images out of my head. In 1999, I graduated from Dupont High School in Belle, WV. During my time there I had won a few awards, ribbons, and such, but nothing too spectacular. I also played football as well, I can fondly remember skipping weightlifting to sneak into the art room to create art. This is the point where I began to transition from 2D to 3D.

Passion is what motivates artists to draw and create. Passion gives you the patience and persistence to learn and grow as an artist. Was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

After graduation, I earned a scholarship to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, but I never followed through with it. Instead, I went into the workforce and started a family. After fifteen years, I decided to work for myself and make what I want to make. So finally, I chose to go back to school and enrolled at Marshall University in Huntington, WV in 2014. I began taking sculpture and that really ignited my passion for making art with the material I had grown so accustomed to dealing with working in industry, metal. By the time my time at Marshall had concluded I had applied and was accepted into the Metals MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where I was lucky enough to be Rick Smith’s Research Assistant, and I learned a ton.

Steven, what is your daily routine when working in your studio?

I try to maintain a daily weekday routine. I was blessed with inheriting a small home in Southern West Virginia, where I have built an art studio in my garage. I had grown accustomed to working in the industrial atmosphere for so long that I have just adapted, and my days are a typical 9-5. I spend the weekdays making and creating, and then on the weekends I like to travel around the region going to craft shows and fairs. If there is such a thing as spare time, I am always looking for gallery opportunities to present my work.

You work with mostly metal and wood for your creations. So, take us through the process of making your artwork. How do you move from an idea to an artwork? Where does an artwork begin for you?

Making my art is a therapeutic process for me. Many events that have happened in my life are what inspires me to create. I feel that I have had an excess of traumatic events that have occurred in my life to this point that really fuel my passion to create. Making helps me deal with traumatic experiences through visual expression. Hopefully, other people feel the same way as I do and can connect with the pieces I develop, but if not, so be it. I do not make my work for anyone else but myself. That may seem selfish to some, but in the end, all of my work is about self-expression. I am a sculptor, and I enjoy using many different materials to create art. However, the medium I use the most is metal. I appreciate its toughness as well as its malleability. Forming things from steel is just so satisfying to me. It represents the area where I am from, through its connection with the steel mills and coal mines of West Virginia.

Somber Toxicity

You take your experiences and hard life lessons and make them outstanding works of art. Is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

There is a central concept to my work that I am creating now. A vast majority of it revolves around the opioid epidemic that plagues my childhood home. This epidemic is growing uncontrollably not only here in the US, but around the world and no one talks about it publicly it seems, at least not around here. The epidemic was starting to gain the attention of national news back in 2019 but then COVID 19 hit and it appears that society has since disregarded the opioid abuse in this country as if it is not happening. But overdose deaths have since doubled and the tolls this epidemic is taking on my home are unbearable for me to witness. I feel I must at least try to reengage the conversation so hopefully, at least one person’s life may be saved and/or altered in a positive way.
Making art is a therapeutic process for me. I like to make beauty from my pain. It helps me heal.

Different topics come to your mind. You want to bring them in front of the audience and direct their opinion toward the causes, negative points and results. Like, as you said, addiction, and drug abuse. How do you seek and use inspiration for your works?

My work is inspired by day-to-day life and personal experiences. I am an expressionist who uses art as a coping mechanism to deal with the stresses of my surroundings and day-to-day life experiences. Past personal relationships have had a strong influence on almost all of my works.

Noticing some influences cause strong motivations in an artist’s mindset. What are your artistic influences? Who are your favorite contemporary or historical artists, and why?

My influences are few but extraordinary. A lot of my current work is figurative and features a lot of symbolism, but I also enjoy working in the abstract. Of course, I have been influenced by the likes of historical sculptors like Auguste Rodin or Michelangelo, but my favorite pieces stem from the minds of Bruce Nauman and David Smith. Bruce Nauman’s “Hand to Mouth was a strong inspirational reference for my “Into the Abyss” wall-mounted piece.

Steven, Ready to meet art predecessors?! If you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, who would it be and what will you ask about?

My one ideal artist from the past that I would have really loved to have gotten to meet would be without a question, Davis Smith. From researching his work and reading his books and watching his historical interviews on YouTube, I just feel that he and I would get along famously. I have so many questions about conceptual development and technique but what I really want to know is what is his favorite cigar to smoke?

Now, let's take off to the future! Any upcoming works or future projects you would like to share with our readers?

Currently, I am working with the Tamarack Artist Foundation and Creative Network of West Virginia to present my work throughout the region, and soon, much more of the country. I was selected for this year’s Emerging Artists of West Virginia Fellowship, which is very exciting for me. I am going to continue to develop these ideas on the opioid epidemic but in the future, I am sure I will expand into other addiction-based themes. Addiction is dark, but broad, and has plenty of room to explore interesting new paths to create my work. The ultimate goal, however, is to expand my presence more internationally and broaden my horizons as a professional artist.

I appreciate your concern about my interview. Thanks for sharing your artistic story with our readers. Always shine on the broad horizon, Steven.

No comments:

Post a Comment