The 45th Kentuck Festival of the Arts was the best one I have gone to yet. The artists were a lot of new faces with their own interesting stories to tell. I walked around among the close tents and tall trees and read some of their biographies, which showed how their personalities were reflected in their work. After some browsing — and a little anxiety — I met with Steve Soares and had an interesting interview that felt more like a conversation.
What sparked your interest in this kind of work?
“When I came across certain skulls and what-not, I look at them as being . . . the folk art of the divine intelligence. Said another way, these are the things that God created. So when I see a skull, some bones, a spinal cord or whatever, I look at it as God’s folk art. So I pick it up and I say man this is beautiful.”
“And I started getting more and more of them at my house and eventually I started painting them and trying to reassemble them. That’s why I use this medium, because I think it’s already beautiful to start with and I think “Okay, this is really beautiful, this is what god created, let me put some more things together”.”
“It’s a weird stigma that this is all spooky and I’m not in that base. I’m much more into the creative kind of thing. But if someone takes it spooky, hey, so be it.”
So what is your favorite piece that you’ve worked on so far?
“My favorite one is the one that I’m gonna do next. You know the next thing, the next thought that comes to the imagination. That’s my favorite. And all of these that have from my imagination have come to here and now I want the next one. Now that I know how to do all of this and all of this has come forward, what’s the next thing? So as I work on and think about that, I think that’s the one I like the most.”
What would you like people to gain or learn from your art?
“I would love for people to look at it and say “you know what, I can do something like that; you know I can try this.” Some people take pictures of this, that, and the other and hey, if that spurs your imagination so that you go out and you start making all kinds of different things or thinking “hey I could do this”, that would be a great thing. We would have more creative people, more people thinking in creative terms rather than in consumer terms.”
How has your art changed over time?
“It’s just more different ideas, every show I go to I try to create something a little bit different. It’s just fun so eventually I have all these ideas that are like “let’s make this, let’s make this”. It’s just a matter of time, going to shows and creating new things so it’s constantly changing as I think we all should be changing. It’s basically changed based on time and moving forward, there really isn’t an objective that’s the road it’s on.”
“Sorry I don’t know if any of this makes sense.”
“No, actually it’s like …I really get it.” It was like déjà vu, everything he was saying I had thought of at some point before.
“Excellent, that’s communication, that’s shared learning and we’re having the experience. That’s wonderful.”
What is your dream project?
“My dream project, yikes! What is my dream project? In terms of doing something like this or . . . I don’t know I want to change the world actually. I’d love to stop the wars and have peace on earth. But my dream project, you know I’m not certain. What I know is that the next thing is gonna be a little bit different and then the next thing is gonna be a little bit different so I just want to stay on that road and kinda just nibble away at it piece by piece.”
“Imagining things then making them and then moving onto the next thing. If we try and jump too high or step too hard, all of a sudden we don’t make the step and we walk away so just nibbling away. We aim too high and get this grandiose idea, it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, and we just go “oh, well forget it”. You know, it’s that first step and then the next step and then it’s the next step, that’s it.”
How is your personality merged in your art?
“That’s a really good question. It’s weird, it can be taken humorously, ’cause I have some people come in and go, ‘Oh, you have a great sense of humor.'”
“It’s not what it seems,” his wife interjected.
“Yeah,” Soares continued, “it’s very different and different is something that we need more of. People make assumptions about it without really learning what it means.”
“We just need different, in our world and our country. We need different ideas, different thoughts so that’s why I’m out here, as everyone else is who’s out here just doing different things. And this is a great show for seeing different things.”
Soares also talked about being a creator, rather than ,a consumer, in a consumer society, which were my thoughts as well, put into coherent words, and it was quite an experience. Being able to connect with people this way is invigorating and inspires me to be more outgoing. Before this interview, I had never really talked with someone I had never met and held a conversation without having to explain things we said to each other.