When Im not at the ICY SIGNS shop selling art or at the Brooklyn Museum painting art, I’m in the Ivy League talking art. Last week at Cornell, Today I’m at UPenn and I’m speaking about what I do, which I call Looking Blues (write this down, this is going to be on the final).
I paint on walls in the free autobiographical way my cave dwelling ancestors did, and I make formal paintings with logotypes about life seen through the dirty contact lenses of a harried, married, 20th-21st century sign writer. Even the paintings are cave paintings, just made mobile for the upwardly mobile cave dweller on the go.
The work I make is drawn from the oldest and newest forms of human communication. In the paintings you’ll see a painted line that starts in Lascaux, flows through Egypt, hangs a right towards ICHTHYS fish, makes a left towards the Stay High 149 joint man then continues onward to the future in the confident hand of a veteran sign writer painting the tears of joy emoji.
Emoji, a japanese word, the “e” refers to a picture and “moji” to a character. I think for expression, a combination of picture and a word together has a greater potential than either separately, and despite the name, emojis rarely combine the two (i see you ). When I started painting this way in 2002, I called myself an “emoticon artist” (lol). Emojis were already an established ideogramic language, and I recognized I was distilling my own life experiences into the same elegant vessel.
I also thought emojis could go deeper and represent the harder to fathom emotions; depression, anxiety, devotion, passion, sorrow, boredom, and yearning to name a few. To make an emoji that is at once funny and cringing and spot on. Thats the mark of a good Stephen Powers emoji. A bunch of these emojis together is a mark of a good Stephen Powers Painting. A good Stephen Powers painting outside is a state of grace I call Mark Surface.
The Brooklyn Museum is the nicest cave I ever had the pleasure of painting in, and I am painting there every day until August 21st. We have remixed the show and will be adding new work so please come through and see the oldest newest style of painting from life. Feel free to take the cue and make this expression your own, Thats what school is all about. Class dismissed.