Stephen Mead: Outsider Folk Artist on a spiritual journey

From Stephen Mead:


As far back as I can remember I have been doing artwork.  In my later teen years it began to dawn on me that this visceral process was most likely going to be life long.  During my late thirties I started to realize and define doing art as some sort of vocation as opposed to a mental aberration.  In the interim, however, despite my dubious relation with the craft, I did attempt getting some schooling for art, and also underwent sporadic attempts of having the artwork shown.  Underwent is the key word, for I wasn’t the least bit comfortable either with contacting dealers let alone being in the same room with anyone while my work was being scrutinized.  Now that I have actually reached my mid-forties, (a surprise to me), I have become less intense about both making and showing art, a little less of a fool to my own hypersensitivity, but not entirely.  Still, I have come to recognize that the fever chart of my own interior landscape is a barometer for how art uses me as a vessel, a conduit.  There is abundance to the universe which simply demands to be expressed.


My early artworks were that of any other child able to make use of opposable thumbs.  Crayons, pencils, (colored or not), ink, chalk, markers, glue:  all were tools or, to be more precise, instruments of unconsciousness becoming defined.  When I began making choices as to what medium I’d use, I was very drawn to, and quite comfortable with pastels.  I went through a long phase, with these as my friends.  At one point, however, I was given a garage sale box of art supplies.  Contained within this treasure chest was a tin of watercolor pencils, circa 1950, that I eventually began putting to use as well. It wasn’t until after my brief stint in college, where I did not find myself happy using oils, (having allergies did not help), or sticking to a black ‘n white regimen, (having worked in color and using other mediums for years by then), that I found myself, upon dropping out, really delving into a world of mixing mediums more and more.  Still, feeling as if I had something to prove about oils, these went into the mix as well.


Looking back at over two decades of doing art, I realize how much experimentation was rooted into me at a young age, and how mixing media was part of a natural progression.  These mixed media pieces usually start with a water-soluble oil pastel base and then branch out from there.  Acrylics, glazes, glues, glitter, jewelry, spices, earth, collage material…  I try to keep the wonder of a child going back into that garage sale treasure chest to explore what these mediums can do when set free to roam.


All of my work must have emotional resonance for me and is part of life-long spiritual exploration.  Seeing myself as an outsider Folk Artist, I’ve also gravitated to using the today’s technology both as a way of connecting more with others, but also as a way of simply seeing what happens when the ages-old process of painting (and the not so ages-old) process of photography meets video and sound. 


Two of the pieces shown here, “Great Wall Submerged” and “Stonehenge Submerged”, are two examples of this form of Folk Creativity in-process, photomontages used as film stills in a piece entitled “Underwater Trilogy”.  Of course, also being a writer, I am challenged by what words are strummed up by images and their interplay, and still love making narratives in book-form.  “Our Book of Common Faith”, an exploration of world religions/cultures in hopes of finding what bonds humanity as opposed to divides, is my latest effort in combining images with text.  The piece “The Temple of my Familiar” pays homage to animals in all of our lives no matter what belief systems we may or may not ascribe to.




Great Wall Submerged, photomontage from the film “Underwater Trilogy”

Stonehenge Submerged, photomontage from the film “Underwater Trilogy”

Threshold, 35 MM

Visions of Johanna, mixed media on paper, part of the series “Not Stopping for Death”, incorporated into the DVD “Captioned Closeness”,

Temple of My Familiar , mixed media on canvas, part of the series “Our Book of Common Faith”,

Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, and maker of short collage-films living in NY.  He would love to talk and network with and mentor other artists, and would enjoy the opportunity to provide advice and feedback on others’ work! He may be reached through his Amazon page: or at