Kurt Ernest Steger
My résumé cannot be expressed as a list of gallery and museum shows, collections or degrees. The true depth of my artistic resume is in the practical life experience of my nearly 30 years as a builder of objects. I have been in the building trades since 1980, starting as a cabinetmaker and then a carpenter and evolving to a builder of fine custom furniture before turning towards sculpture. In the early years I had a knack for working with my hands. Remodeling kitchens gave me a wide range of tasks and materials to work in. I worked on mansions with master carpenters in southern California. This gave me experience in fine architecture and design.
Soon after, I studied the highly skilled arena of Japanese woodworking, which changed my approach to working in wood. I moved from southern California to northern California to immerse myself in the fine woodworking movement that was taking place in that area. I apprenticed under a highly seasoned furniture builder, David J. Marks, crafting highly technical, contemporarily designed furniture.
In 1990 with my woodworking and design skills well developed, I opened a custom woodshop. After projects as diverse as boat work, furniture, antique repair and the construction of a 108-foot Buddhist temple, I began leaving the function out of my woodwork and moving into purely aesthetic forms. From my love of building and design and an inner desire to express a message in my work, I pursued a self-study of what art and expression meant to me. Working purely in form gave me the opportunity to hone the skills of proportion, shape, texture and finish; fine craftsmanship at this point was essential to the integrity of the work. My work was being noticed in the art circles and I was fortunate to spend time with elder artists that encouraged me in the pursuit of my craft.
My first body of work, “Alters to the Earth,” was met with positive critical acceptance. A fine art gallery in Bodega Bay, Calif., The Ren Brown Collection, gave a showing of my sculptures. The success of this work led me into the next series, “Funerary Works.” More positive feedback moved me into my first solo show, “The Walking Stick Project.”
Between my woodworking skills and art sales, I have engaged a large proportion of my working life to the passion of art making. I have created a large body of work, experimented, evolved and am well on my way to becoming a well-seasoned, mature maker of art.
Over the years and in my varied projects both artistically as well as functionally, I have gained skills in other media besides wood. I am proficient in sheet metal work; two grandfathers owned sheet metal shops. I have worked in bronze, stone, paper, clay and synthetic materials. I have created works that were primarily conceptual and have created site-specific works. I am confident in my ability as a creative person to take a situation and find a creative and beautiful answer to the calling. Now that I am pursuing larger scale work in both the corporate and the public arenas, all my training of the past has become an asset to this direction of my career. Communicating comfortably with architects, contractors, engineers, and trades people has added joy to my work as a sculptor. I am deeply honored and blessed to have found my life role and, with respect, I joyously share my gift.
To see more images of Kurt Ernest Steger’s work, go to http://www.stegersculpture.com