B. Thom Stevenson lives and works in Worcester, MA. Stevenson’s a multifaceted artist who explores the intersections between subcultures by boiling down their artifacts in order to juxtapose them in visually impactful dialogues, pairing both original and sourced materials to form a unique vocabulary. His practice explores the use of language as imagery and pictures as tools of ambiguous stimuli for the viewer. In 2021, B. Thom Stevenson founded Paradise Gallery in his hometown of Sutton, MA.
Please explain your thoughts and creative process behind the designs submitted
I made three drawings for the sea shepherds all with a general vibe of poster communication and immediacy but each with a different narrative. These “Poster Drawings” are meant to function as visual poetry with meaning hidden under a few layers of abstraction. The physical process is pencil sketches to acrylic enamel on a fluorescent poster board.
Is there an underlying message you aim to communicate through your work in general, if so, what is it?
I’m interested in the language of communication. The ability for a static image or object to stir curiosity in an individual and provoke them to search for meaning in a certain thing. I create work to act as stimuli for the viewer to project their current mood and life experiences onto. Who the viewer is, up until the moment of seeing a painting of mine, gets reflected back onto them in a fractured mirror of interpretation. To achieve these, I combine my own material with found words and imagery to act as milestones and signal meaning.
Have there been any standout or pivotal moments in your life that have inspired you as a creative?
In 2013 or 2014 I had the realization that I could pave my own path that wove its way in and out of the existing gallery structure. I realized that most galleries are born and continue to exist for the love of art. No gallerist truly wants to be a gatekeeper but logistics make it difficult for existing institutions to take risks. I took from this conclusion that the only one who is going to give me what I want is myself. So I organized a few friends to create The Ryobi Room, a nomadic gallery program for artists by artists. The Ryobi Rooms took place in hotel rooms and bodega basements. I used this self-erected platform to show my own work and the work of my friends and their friends and their friends’ friends. Those logistic hurdles and forcing myself to show my work publicly pushed me to grow immensely as an artist.
Where does your passion for your craft derive from?
I don’t know if one is a symptom of the other, but when I’m bursting with creative energy I have this warm sensation in my gut.
What would your dream freelance job be and why?
I’d have a phone number that people called when they had sentimental objects that they didn’t have room for but didn’t want to throw out. I’d go pick them up and record the story behind the objects and take some videos and photos of the person in their space. Then I’d put the object in a big museum where each object had a display and a button you could push to hear the story. When people are getting rid of sentimental objects they’re also usually getting rid of nonsentimental objects. So I’d pick that stuff up as well and sell it in the museum shop. A found object gift shop of nonsentimental items. This would fund the museum, promote reuse, and give people a place to relive old memories.
What does this collection mean to you?
I first heard about the Sea Shepards first around 2007 or 2008 and was blown away by their dedication to their cause. I have followed their efforts over the years always amazed at their accomplishments both politically and directly on the open sea. When approached about doing this project would them I said yes before I even knew the detail I am so thrilled to be able to assist in any way their efforts in saving our living oceans.