Interviewed by AOTCE staff
Artists On The Cutting Edge: How did you come to art and how long have you been in the arts?
Steven Mealy: Around age 7 were comic books, Black Panther. My father Robert Mealy was a Tuskegee airmen and he would build wooden airplanes for my brother and myself. As a child I liked working on art projects and creative projects in school and at home. By the time I reached high school, I had a well rounded art education. Art was my favorite class and that is where I put all my creative energy. I attended Central State University in Ohio where I majored in art education. I have been involved in art all of my life.
AOTCE: What was your goal as a teacher of art?
Steven Mealy: My goal as an art teacher was to teach a well rounded art curriculum, K-12. I wanted to instill in my students that art is a viable way of life. Examples of subjects I taught in my high school classes: automotive design, fashion design, painting, sculpture, architecture, murals and graphic design to name a few.
AOTCE: How would you describe your work? What category would the historians put your art?
Steven Mealy: I would describe my work as being a genetic art which incorporates the natural aesthetics of African art, fused with modern materials from my everyday environment. These objects are cultural, African influenced, conceptual designs. My creative goal is to produce art with constructual concepts that blend to create one unified design. My art is a fusion of old concepts with a new approach and understanding of African art and New Age ideas. The category historians would place my art is eclectic mixed media.
AOTCE: Had you hoped to be a full time artists or did your preference turn towards teaching subsequent generations?
Steven Mealy: I always worked as a teacher as well as an artist. There was no separation between them.
AOTCE: How did you approach your lessons in art?
Steven Mealy: I approached my lessons based on the DPS art curriculum guide. I gave students confidence in their work by incorporating art elements and principles of design within each art subject. I entered my students in many local and national art contests, exhibits, and they worked on public murals. I participated in the General Motors "Make A Difference Program" and taught automotive design to my students.
AOTCE: Did you see many gifted students who went on to become practicing artists?
Steven Mealy: Yes there were many gifted students. One of the students, Brittany (Bea) Jackson, is a nationally recognized freelance illustrator. She recently illustrated a children's book, "Parker Looks Up", a New York Times bestseller. Another student, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, an internationally known artist. She creates monumental-scale mixed media collages.
AOTCE: Did you show your work during the teaching years?
Steven Mealy: Yes I did show my work during the teaching years. I am a member of NCA Michigan (National Conference of Artists). As a member, I have exhibited my work in art festivals, galleries, etc. I created the NABJ (National Assoc. of Black Journalists )national poster in1980's. Along with countless art exhibits.
AOTCE: When you finally retired, did you pursue your art full time?
Steven Mealy: When I retired in 2012, I continued working on my art, increasing my output overall. I participated in many art exhibits and auctions, such as: The Big Sculpture Show-Highland Park, Michigan Annual XLVI at Anton Art Center, The Carr Center, The N'Namdi Contemporary Art Center, The Norwest, The Collected Gallery, The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club, Detroit Delta Art Auction, Torch of Wisdom Art Auction, The Detroit Art Teachers Assoc., NCA Art Exhibition, etc.
AOTCE: Did your approach to your work change over the years?
Steven Mealy: No, my approach to my work has not changed significantly over the years. There are periods when I focus on my three-dimensional sculptures. Other times I focus on my Collages, and I have periods when I work on many paintings. It mostly depends on my creative energy at the time. I do experiment with new materials and mediums.
AOTCE: Where can your work be seen?
Steven Mealy: My work can be seen in many private collections, art auctions, art exhibits, JB Speed Museum, facebook-Steven Mealy, Instagram-_artman.
AOTCE: What do you hope the viewer will come away with after viewing your work, and is that important?
Steven Mealy: After the viewer sees my work, I hope they will come away with an enhanced creative awareness of art and ideas.
AOTCE: Do you mentor or teach today?
Steven Mealy: The Detroit Fine Art Breakfast Club meets weekly which includes networking with younger upcoming artists.
AOTCE: What words of wisdom would you like to leave our readers?
Steven Mealy: I would like to leave the readers with these words: " Your art should be relevant and a reflection of your beliefs."
AOTCE: Thank you Steven for being as open as you were.
Steven Mealy: You're welcome
All rights to all images belong to the artists and cannot be used in any form without the written permission of the artists.