Steven Bleicher is a professor in the visual arts department at Coastal Carolina University. Bleicher received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from Pratt Institute. He has worked and taught at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, the State University of New York, Brooklyn College and Marian College. In addition, he has served as the assistant dean of the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
Bleicher is an accomplished artist. His artwork is included in many major collections and is widely exhibited both nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Bleicher collaborated as the color specialist with fellow artist and Pratt alumna, Jennifer Wen Ma, on Man and Nature in Rhapsody of Light, a permanent public art installation at the Water Cube in Beijing. The work combines traditional Chinese philosophy with contemporary aesthetics and digital technology. The lighting installation opened in June 2013.
In October 2004, Bleicherʼs book, Contemporary Color: Theory and Use, was published by Cengage Press and Thompson Learning. It is a comprehensive text on color, and focuses on digital color and its relationship to other new technologies as well as traditional color theory. Other chapters include color psychology, perception and dimensional aspects of color. The second edition, published in April 2012 is updated and contains a new chapter with a focus on global color and multiculturalism.
Currently, Bleicher is writing a book on basic design for Oxford University Press that is tentatively titled, Contemporary Art and Design Foundations. It is planned to be the most extensive and comprehensive text of its type and will include pedagogical areas such as conceptual thinking, digital color, as well as all aspects of two and three-dimensional design. The book is scheduled for publication in 2019.
As a result of his expertise on color, Bleicher is often interviewed and has been quoted by notable publications such as the New York Times and El Español, as well as other local, national and international publications. He was a guest contributor to a local television program, Today in South Florida, for a series of segments about using color effectively. He has also been invited to other colleges and universities to speak and was a visiting professor and artist at the Nanjing Art Institute. Bleicher is also a consultant on color psychology and theory for major corporations including Tilson Communications and Staples, Inc. Most recently, he has been an expert witness on color and copyright infringement.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
I began to be interested in photography and art in the beginning of high school. I started out doing black and white photography and had my own darkroom. My best friend (who was also into art) was carving stone. When we talk about art, I kept suggesting ideas for sculptures. One day he turned to me and said, “If it’s such a good idea – you do it”. And I said to myself, he’s right I can make my own sculptures. I started to make my own sculpture both direct work in clay and plaster as well as carving wood and stone. I had my first exhibition of my stone carvings at Gallery 10 in Greenwich Village in NYC. I continued making sculpture throughout college and graduate school. Since then, I’ve had several artist residences as a sculptor at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
The major change came to my work while I was assistant dean of art and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). I was working with the dean to bring new technology (desktop computers, Macs) into the curriculum and started to work digitally myself. The work started as all digital, then progressed to digital work that I painted back into it with oils and/or acrylics. Finally evolving (circa 2000) into my current method of working - mixing digital images and graphite renderings together and adding mixed media elements collected from the site or nearby.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
I have very good time management skills. I like to work on the more complex or technical elements for my work in the mornings. These include working with solvents and printing and other technically oriented procedures. I also like to write in the mornings and early afternoon. In 2004 I completed my first book, Contemporary Color, Theory and Use. The second edition was published in 2012. I’m currently working on a new book for Oxford University Press.
In the afternoon and evenings, I work on the rendering and values creations of my work.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
I always work on several pieces at a time, anywhere from 4-8 images. That is partly because I work on one image for a while and then set it aside to look at it and see where it needs to be developed – where the values need to be darker, etc. So, I may go back and work on a piece again and again it I feel it’s complete. This part of being critical about your work is very important to me as an artist.
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
It’s hard to say, I’m a very driven person. I am always busy, always working. There’s always something to do.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
I am always interested in new innovative projects or collaborations.
A few years back I was asked to be the color specialist and collaborated with Jennifer Wen Ma and Zheng Jainwei on Man and Nature in Rhapsody of Light, a permanent public art installation at the Water Cube in Beijing, China, which opened in June, 2013. The work combines traditional Chinese philosophy and contemporary aesthetics with digital technology. Some of the images and videos from the work can be seen on my website: www.stevenbleicher.com.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
The chaos aspect of my work is twofold; first, as I travel and seek out new images - I never know what I’m going to find. That serendipity and always makes life interesting. The printing process is also another part of chance. I never know how some of the prints will turn out. I ask myself, do I like it? does it work as a whole or do I need to start over. Also finding the souvenir items or other dimensional objects that go into my work is up to chance. Finding the right object to enhance the work is very important. Sometimes finding an object first will lead me to specific image or idea.
The actual rendering aspect of my work is much more controlled.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
I’m continuing my Route 66 Series. I have also started another series The Kings Highway about 2 years ago. While Route 66 can be considered the “mother road”, The Kings Highway could be considered the “father road”. My work documents what remains of the original highways. The Kings Highway was started in the 1700’s by King Charles III of England; the route’s initial conception was to link the eastern coast from Georgia to Boston. It was the route for commerce for the new colonies and subsequently the new nation. It may be as iconic as Route 66 which played a significant I role in the dust exodus of the great dust bowl migration and was featured in John Steinbeckʼs Grapes of Wrath. For both Route 66 and The Kings Highway many of the unique places and attractions have been abandoned, but their ruins and what has blossomed in their place have taken on new life. These places are a testament to the American spirit. So much of American life has been and continues to revolve around our mobility, highways, and their effect on our lives. These themes are essential to my work. I regularly return to cruise these highways. In this way, I have also become part of the road‘s nomadic residents.
The first half of the work from the Kings Highway series was recently exhibited in a solo exhibition at the Chapin Art Museum. Some new additions to this body of work will be part of upcoming solo exhibitions in Charleston, South Carolina and at the University of Mobile next year.
All of my artwork can be viewed at:
Graphite & Mixed Media on Paper
14 X 11
Joe and Aggies
Graphite & Mixed Media on Paper
14 X 11
Graphite & Mixed Media on Paper
14 X 11