Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Flatfile Show

Hi friends. Here are a couple of pics of my work in a current show. I've included selections of the work that might not be on my website (, as well as a couple of views of the whole show of my work. Click on images for larger views. Enjoy!

View upon entering the basement level of Flatfile Gallery.

View of Steve Panella's wall of text-based work.

"b I ble", Transformed Book, Approx. 20 x 12 x 2 inches, 2006

"b I ble" Detail. Feel free to click on image for larger image.

"b I ble" Detail. Can you see the ''I's" under all the other text.

"Cigarette Butts", Transformed Books, sizes variable, 2004

"Skeleton of a Page", Transformed Book Page, 7 x 10 inches, 2004-2008. The page is perforated and displayed to create a cast shadow. The art hangs between the wall and a piece of plexiglas.

"Skeleton of a Page" Detail.

"Book Stones", Transformed Books, Sizes Variable, 2003-2007
I am thankful for Andy Thomas and Flatfile Gallery in Chicago who made this show possible. I met Andy two years ago while I was peddling my art around the Chicago area. He liked my work and later scheduled a show of text-based art at Flatfile Gallery for their next available opening in February 2008. I believe it was early in 2006 when we met. Thanks Andy!
The other three artists in the show are Nate Larson, Monika Wulfers and Rachel Foster. Glad to meet you all!


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
Congrats on your show! I can see all the "I's" under all the other text. How did you decide which text to detail and which to remove? Also, can you please help me understand the meaning behind the "Cigarette Butts" work? All your work is very unique, creative, eye catching and great. Well, thanks for sharing and have a Happy Easter.

steve said...

Thank you Kathleen and thank you for your question.
What I can say about the cigarette butts is that when I created them in 2004, I was interested in making things out of books. I used to walk around and bike around a lot those days. And I had many ideas, but as I was thinking about them over and over, I noticed that my head was usually down looking at the ground. It was there I began to notice the huge amount of cigarette butts everywhere.
From there, the meaning fell in to place: like cigarette butts are tossed away when the cigarette is finished, the idea of books being thrown away after they are consumed (read). Proof of that phenomenon is found in any thrift store in the country. Also, the many, many used bookstores. There are other parallels people have mentioned, like the idea that eventually it is possible that books may not be produced any longer with the advent of the internet.
Lastly, though I continued a little bit with the book theme in my work, the cigarette butts seemed to harken to an ending of sorts for that body of work to close, and a new body of work to begin. That new body began with the human body.
That would be what I called the narrative series which I am working on clarifying and editing for a future showing that I am planning. Thanks again for your question, hope that I answered it.

steve said...

I came back to read what I wrote and noticed I forgot your first question. Sorry, it slipped by me.
Well, in that work, I was thinking of a title bIble where the I is capitalized and the other letters lower case to bring attention to the I or self. The question I ask is what happens if a person were to look at the self while reading the Bible (or any religious text for that matter). I am not particularly experienced in religion, but feel that what we read as human beings tends to mirror us the reader. So while it seems that many people tend to look toward books for answers, it is not just the books that help, it is the feelings of the person reading the books. How will we know when something is for us when we read? By how it feels?
Books are comprised of words. And the arrangement of the words means everything. The same words found in the Bible could be found in a Shakespeare play or a Dr. Seuss book. It's all how the words are arranged that makes the difference.
So, in my work bIble, I've decided to give the impression that the "I" or self is found there underneath all of this other banter, much of it "negative" and mixed in with words like peace or heart. Beyond all that is the "I". Translated, I guess to find myself, I must go beyond the beliefs I've learned about who I am, only then can I find the "I".
Does this help?
Thanks for your questions.