Art Program Empowers Student to Pursue Diverse Interests with Confidence
In an environment where he is free to experiment, Steven Stallings finds personal fulfillment in his work
May 15, 2018
When BFA student Steven Stallings discusses his artwork, you get the sense that his mind has an unusual capacity for collecting information and forming connections. He weaves together diverse interests into powerful and personal works that feel simultaneously compelling and innocent. Most recently, Stallings has combined traditional craft processes, his Colombian heritage, rituals, currency and self-contained economic systems, film noir and everyday appliances into short video pieces.
The newest result of Stallings’ creative process is the video, “Arepas Monedas,” which was largely funded by a Time & Digital Media grant from the Art Department. The money from this grant allowed Stallings to travel to Colombia for research and to construct sets on a much larger scale than those in any of his previous videos. Receiving the grant also helped Stallings feel more confident in his direction.
“I didn’t think, ‘Oh this is going to be dumb,’” he said. “[The grant] kind of fizzled that away and helped me be more focused, instead of questioning why I was doing this.”
According to Stallings, one of the best things about the art program is that “the faculty allows me to do these crazy things I do.”
During his time at BYU, Stallings has developed a signature style of videos, featuring bright colors, handmade props, personal appearances and music he composes himself. His work playfully explores systems of exchange and identity through fictions that have a dreamlike urgency.
“Steven has incredible energy and a strong artistic voice,” said Professor Peter Everett, Stallings’ faculty advisor. “His work is consistently powerful and engaging, merging a playful approach to materials and forms with issues of relevance to our time.”
The freedom to create art that is personally fulfilling, while also learning from faculty in class and one-on-one critiques, has helped Stallings find purpose and direction in his work. “It’s all centered on how good the faculty is,” Stallings said. “They know what it’s like to be an artist, so they set up environments where we are allowed to experiment and grow, while also giving us deadlines and something to work toward.”
Merging Performance and Visual Art
Stallings—who was intent on becoming a jazz drummer until just two years ago—transitioned naturally from performing to visual arts and maintains a strong relationship with music through his work. His background in performance motivates him to use himself within the frame of the videos he makes.