Magazine Posts Table of Contents
Conversation with Paul Anthony Smith Talk with Fashion Photographer - Oriana Layendecker

Jonathan Stein, Artist Interview

Posted | Views: 11,362
Tell us about your practice, how do you work and what do you make?

My work celebrates and calls into question Society's fixation with over consumption. I am obsessed with our pop culture fast food nation, so I take ordinary iconic foods like a Starbucks cup of coffee or a package of Twinkies and Super Size the dimensions of each item so they are larger than life in scale. I sculpt in clay or wax and cast in bronze or resin. Each of my mixed media sculptures are then hand painted in enamels and the logos of such parody works are redesigned and hand stenciled. From there I set to task hand setting (using a toothpick) a veneer of tens of thousands of individual colored Swarovski crystals over the entire sculpture. 

Your sculptures are very glitzy and funny. They seem over the top and ridiculous in a great way of course. 
Do you have a big sense of humor? 

 I love embedding humor in my work. The works are deeply rooted in parody and I embrace kitsch. While behind a shiny veneer, the works address critical issues of over consumption, obesity, malnutrition, the dangers of advertising and so forth; overall, I want my audiences to laugh, smile, or be taken in by the joy inherently placed in these familial consumables. 

Photo Credit: Evan Orensten 

Working with children and the less fortunate is an important thing for you. Tell us how you got involved with the community. 

I have been working with developmentally disabled adults and children since childhood. Charity and Art are at the core of who I am; that gives me purpose not only as an artist but as an individual. I began teaching art to autistic and severely disabled youth while in middle school. I continued working with these at-risk youth throughout high school while also aiding the Deaf Community here in South Florida by interpreting and performing songs in ASL for community based events.  I currently serve as the Creative Director for Drops of Hope, a Pediatric Cancer non-profit that builds fantasy room makeovers for underprivileged children battling cancer or cancer related illnesses. I use my art to raise awareness for marginalized communities and often as a means of raising needed funds for non-profits whom otherwise would fail to aid the populations that critically depend upon them. 

What are you working on now? 

A large hand jewel encrusted box of Matzoh which hopefully will be included in a show at the Miami Jewish Museum this September.

What was your upbringing like...does it reflect on your work at all?

 I had a decent childhood. I sought refuge in art as a child to try to find my voice being that I am middle child. Growing up as a very short in stature child, (I'm only 5'5) Art was a way to express myself and being able to draw I believe helped me combat a lot of the bullying I'm sure I would have endured by bigger kids that wanted me to sketch for them instead pummeling me. Lol

Tell us about your cakes! 

My cakes focus on the issue of over consumption primarily with reference to celebrity fanatacism. A year before Britney Spears came out with the song "You Want a Piece of Me", I created a mixed media cake portrait of her called Everyone Wants A Piece of Britney, inspired by her non-underpants limo ordeal. The world was ravenous and felt entitled to view and consume that image of Britney. My Post Modern Feminist artist response was to sculpt and paint a cake sans her crotch. It's punishment for society's sense of entitlement. From there I painted other celebs everyone wants to devour with slices removed as well. I'm at the point however that now I only do custom portraits of celebs which I get them to sign to raise money for Drops of Hope, my charity and I'll do a second portrait for their charity. If my art can aid those in need; I'm using down to help. 
Lowest point in your art career was when?

 Lowest point is watching pieces I've done years ago that didn't get their rightful place in the sun get remade popularized and capitalized on by other artists who've blossomed instead. Very often I have found, one can be brilliantly talented and filled with tremendous passion but still feel and be considered utterly invisible in the Art World. I feel that way at times myself, it can be rough. 

Hightest point in your art career was when?

I was asked to be in, For Which It Stands, an internationally published book of contemporary artists who celebrate Americana. I was hand selected along side artists like Ai Weiwei, Kevin Berlin, Shepard Fairey, Steve McQueen, Barbara Kruger, and Vik Muniz. 
To learn more about Jonathan Stein click here. 
- August 2013