“I'm 5'10". An average sized ginger - usually hard to miss".
The Saturday before last was technically my first meeting with Miss Steph Guidera, though we’ve chatted briefly over the years via the Internet. I discovered her work one evening while spending time with friends at the Uptown Pizza Luce. I was really into the art on the walls and asked an employee who’s it was. Instead of a website, I was either given her personal email, or her Facebook account, I forget which. Either way, I decided to contact her and just let her know that I was a fan, and she was very open to giving me any advice she had about creating art and getting it out into the world.
Fast-forward to a month ago or so when I was communicating with the sales manager at Aria for my most recent employer, and she mentioned that my name sounded familiar. I had been thinking the same thing, but looked past it until that moment. Low and behold, it was Steph!
We set up a date for coffee and so I could get a chance to check out her studio; in what seemed like no time we met at Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. I purchased a delicious iced chai tea latte and the most amazing cake-like gluten free chocolate donut, which Steph also opted for, as well as a soy cappuccino.
We talked about all sorts of things. Ranging from the graphic idea of killing your own food (which stopped soon after noticing plenty of people around us with meat on their plates), her amazing trip to Greece, the relationship between the artist and the muse, and settled mostly on our overlapping work topics. Meaning we talked a lot about the wedding industry and all things related.
We decided it was probably best to get going and after a short walk, arrived at her studio in the Ivy Arts Building. The building is literally covered in ivy.
She shares a studio with two other artists, the large space split up into four corners. (Dear Steph, if that fourth corner becomes available, I’m interested!) This studio looked how a space where art is made should look. Inspiration pasted along the walls, a handful of unfinished canvases stacked around the room, and paint on many surfaces, including the artist herself.
Steph’s initial go-around with painting was senior year of high school in which she completed her first painting with acrylics. She decided to go to college for a general art major without knowing much more than the fact that she had a genuine passion to create. Now she works with oils and has a better idea of where she’d like to end up. She is currently taking classes and internships to work her way into the field of art conservation, which is apparently quite the journey.
As for her personal work, she’s currently working on a series inspired by a dream:
“There was an aquarium full of humans. Some were alive, some dead. Some were calm and content, some fighting to escape. The imagery is something I cannot explain; the experience so potent I cannot help but try. The figures in this contained uninhabitable space became an allegory for living in this world. Some serene, some struggling, all present. Experimenting with a way to illustrate the inner battles fought daily against anxiety, depression and illnesses, these rigid and invasive fungi appeared and are part of the spectrum from peacefully flourishing to aggressively attacking”.
Steph doesn’t make her income off of selling her paintings. That’s not to say she hasn’t sold any, it’s just not why she paints. “I paint because I need to". Like many artists, she uses her art as a way to sort out internal thoughts in a very hands-on, physical way. She even stretches her own canvas and builds her own frames.
Next I asked Steph if I could put her in front of my lens. There’s something so neat about meeting someone face to face for the first time, when you’re so accustomed to seeing only his or her picture. And I’d just like to point out how lovely it is to spend time with someone before rushing into photographing them.
The great thing about Steph, besides her easily photographed beauty, is the fact that throughout the day, I could tell she was genuinely listening and interested in what I had to say. There were multiple stories she shared with me that someone had originally shared with her. Individuals she’s met through work or her travels that open up to her right away, and I can easily see why.
I’d like to end this post with my favorite quote from the day,
“That’s so disgusting, I love it”. –Steph Guidera