Rivers of Steel Arts is excited to launch the 2020 Mon Valley Featured Artist Series. Showcasing some of the exciting creative professionals working across the Mon Valley Creative Corridor, this monthly blog highlights an artist each month—from a variety of boroughs—to provide a snapshot of the region’s growing cultural vitality.
About Steven Haines
As we move these artist features to a new monthly format, we are pleased to focus the month of July on local Homestead artist Steven Haines. Steven’s multidisciplinary work moves between fine art photography, painting, and analog film curation, amongst other mediums. His affinity for historic footage and community-focus draw meaningful connections between the Steel Valley’s industrial legacy and a new vision for the community through creative placemaking.
A Message from Steven
About My Work
I work in many different visual mediums—including film/video, painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture—but I consider myself to be most accomplished with photography and film curation. In both, I am largely committed to working with analog processes. For still photography, I do most of my shooting on film, which I hand-process, and print (both B&W and color) in my darkroom. Creating is a relaxing process for me, so I like to be able to step away from the stresses of the internet, but there are times when I welcome a more hybrid approach, such as when I’m designing posters for my film screenings. For the film events themselves, the majority of the content is shown on film, with some video sprinkled in to some shows. One of my primary goals with the events is to present work that is otherwise unlikely to be shown anywhere in the region, and to contextualize it in such a way so that people will appreciate it. If I were to sum-up all of my art-making practices in two words right now, those words would be organization and preservation.
I live in Homestead, right on the Homestead / Munhall border. My home has had a big impact on me as an artist, since at this time I consider my primary influences (in broad terms) to be space and materials. I really enjoy sitting with those things until they speak to me. I don’t mean that literally, but I’m instead referring to coming to an understanding of the constraints / possibilities that come with any space or materials.
In practical terms, I’m just referring to the way I walk around my home and my neighborhood and appreciate a particular view dozens of times. Finally, I take my camera, find the right distance, angle, lighting conditions, etc., and I preserve the image on film. I do it for myself primarily. I’m amateur and proud of it.
The microcinema events I organize are my most public-facing events. I’m constantly watching old 16mm films—such as educational films, home movies, commercials, industrials, etc. —and there is just endless amazing work that has been left out of film histories and forgotten by all but the most dedicated of film scholars. While I do love working with contemporary artists, the bulk of my programming is old films that I’m pulling from my collection, organizing into shows that fit a particular theme, and hopefully contextualizing everything in a way that allows the audience to appreciate at least some aspects of each film. I get so excited by so many of these films that I’m compelled to share them. I constantly have to tell people that educational films are not all hokey time capsules portraying outdated social values. There were many brilliant artists making beautiful films in that realm. The sharing of the films with audiences is a key part of the preservation aspect.
To return to the subject of how the place I live has impacted my art: it’s important to note that the lower home prices in my neighborhood (compared to across the river in the city of Pittsburgh proper) is what allowed me and my partner to buy a house, which is so essential to my artmaking. I have space for my film archive, a darkroom, studio space to work on everything else, and room for storing my materials. That was impossible in the one-bedroom apartment we previously rented in Greenfield.
Find Me Online
Twitter: Flea Market Films
Facebook: Flea Market Films