Steven Volpe, Anthem, 1st Place

Steven Volpe, Anthem, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 58.5 cm, $960

1. Tell us about the artwork you have in the VAM 2011 Juried Show.

I entered a piece called Anthem that is part of an ongoing series of figurative paintings entitled Duets. Each painting in the series centers around two people in ordinary settings. An unusual or interesting gesture will spark an idea or provide a foundation around which I construct a composition. The process is part intellectual, part intuitive, and part accidental which usually makes any sort of verbal meaning fall short of the kind of visual meaning I’m trying to convey.

In Anthem, the gesture of the wind-blown woman with her hand covering her ear was of primary interest to me. I felt that with the addition of the flag and the title of the piece, I could re-contextualize that gesture making the painting more interesting by adding another interpretive layer. The unusually cropped figures, the flag, and the horizon are all askew, putting the viewer on unstable footing as well; I wanted the heads of the women to form a kind of human landscape, and my only explanation for the motionless flag, was that it felt right within the context of the painting.

2. How and when did you first become interested in creating art?

I used to draw and paint when I was very young, but it wasn’t until my late teens that I became interested in developing my skills further. I copied Robert Bateman’s paintings and this was an important first step in my career in art. Over the past twenty years, I’ve really tried to educate myself about art and art history, artists’ philosophies, and different methods and materials, in order to continue to learn and grow – including getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts in the 80’s.

3. What do you think of the art scene in Mississauga? Where do you see it heading in the next ten years?

Although I am a Mississauga native, I’ve been in Orangeville for over ten years, so I am more aware of the art scene up this way. However, I would like to see a vibrant art scene across the province where art becomes a valued part of the community and the public comes to appreciate and invest in innovative ideas.

4. What advice would you give young people who want to become artists?

I’m 44 years old and I consider myself an emerging artist. However, my years as a graphic designer have definitely had a positive impact on my current work. I would hope that young artists would be open to different creative experiences that would inform their chosen art in unpredictable ways. Also, art doesn’t seem to know any age limit, so I would like to see people of all ages tap into their creative potential.

5. What do you have lined up after the VAM Juried Show? For people interested in finding more of your artwork, do you have a website, blog, Twitter account or gallery?

After the VAM show, I’ll continue building up my body of work and I intend to find some gallery representation to advance my career. I’ll continue entering group shows, and I’ve also got my teaching certificate, so I’ll keep my eyes open to see if any college or continuing education courses become available. People can see more of my work at my website:

See Steven Volpe’s Anthem at the Art Gallery of Mississauga in the VAM 33rd Annual Juried Show until February 26th.

Voting for People’s Choice Award ongoing until February 26th. Ballots available at Gallery reception.

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