I draw for many reasons. I draw professionally and I draw for personal pleasure and out of curiosity. For a theatrical set designer, there is no leaner tool to convey or work out how a thing looks or what is intended or imagined. Here drawing is both thinking and describing. In contrast, my personal drawing practice is neither applied nor practical but is purely for the sake of experiment and the unalloyed pleasures of discovery. I call this activity per passa il tempo - passing time - which derives from a daily practice of automatic drawing. These drawings come from my hand’s undirected encounter with tools and materials. I generate marks and shapes improvisationally out of the energies embedded in muscle memory and subliminal awareness. By this approach I strive to subvert preconception and designing in favor of original experimentation. The glyphic scribblings that result are meditative and instructive in the way that Leonardo da Vinci’s recommendation to study stains on walls, ashes from the fire, clouds and mud, is offered as an aid to the conjuring imagination.
Artist Bio / CV
Charles Steckler is a bricoleur, an assemblage artist who works as a painter, printmaker, photographer, draughtsman, stage designer, and collage and diorama artist. He has exhibited his work in numerous one-person and group exhibitions and has designed stage sets for over a hundred plays. He has been a Yaddo Fellow, an Associate at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, a Resident Artist at the Vermont Studio Center, a Prix de Rome Finalist and Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. He received his B.A. from Queens College and his MFA from Yale University. He is Professor of Theater and Designer-in-Residence at Union College in Schenectady, New York.
Steckler’s works are often characterized by a resourceful combining of common materials arranged in surprising ways to create intense, carefully orchestrated compositions. His dioramas and collages possess a rhythmic layering of objects and images set in densely packed spaces, vibrantly colored or starkly black and white. The works reveal a meticulous attention to detail while at the same time exuding a playful energy and humor. Ever present is the artist’s sense of joy and pleasure in the materials, in the juxtapositions he creates, and in the transformations he engenders. A strong narrative thread runs through most of Steckler’s works, setting him apart from many of his inspirational forebears like Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters. This lively narrative impulse is a direct link with his work in the theater, and the dioramas can, in fact, be viewed as diminutive stage sets in which wondrous and whimsical dramas are eternally unfolding.