The Art of Steven Leyba

In his words: 

To me the most personal creation is the most universal. Simply writing words is not enough. Books are a way culture preserves its history, but often times books used to control the ideas and politics of society; to restrict information. I seek to make books to liberate: that defy control, censorship and simple definition and depict life in its totality. I see my hand-made books as political reclamation of the natural world in its fecundity. I paint oil over acrylic over collage over anything I can find. I embellish the paintings with glass beads and organic material from the world around me literally putting the landscape and my DNA into the books. I have used dirt, coffee, hair, leafs, molasses, blood, urine, insects and anything I feel can give the book life from life. We are so used to having the synthetic and technological global culture define how we perceive ourselves, our bodies, our biology, and who we are, that when someone has a different point of view of the human experience and makes the commitment to put it in a book forever, it can be frightening and challenging yet very alive.

I embrace the reverence of the natural world that my Apache ancestors celebrated, one that focuses on the micro and macrocosms, nature, the reclaiming of forgotten and challenging symbols and all aspects of a life put into a book the moment it is happening.

 

Genesis P Orridge writes on SoLiteral,

…In spiritually volatile times such as this we, as a species, need to ask ourselves some searching and uncomfortable, even disturbing questions. The miraculous unfolding and ongoing survival of humanity against incredible environmental and climatic odds throughout the ages has been preserved, catalyzed, directed, inspired, mirrored and sanctified on our species’ behalf by the shamans, soothsayers, storytellers, sorcerers, wise ones, alchemical healers and (once upon a time) by the Artists of each age. These oracular beings fearlessly explore additional dimensions to those of mundane nonsensus everyday “reality”. They push the boundary of established social protocols, using the discipline of brutal self questioning to carry out an independent cultural autopsy on the often putrefying body of humanity during any given age. These courageous and often vilified individuals are essential to the psychic hygiene and mental health of the social order or civilization of their time.

As our ways of life have separated further and further from a balance with Nature, the role and prestige of these visionary gestalt therapists working on behalf of their community after an, often involuntary, initiation by near death experience, has been in decline. For around 2000 years these “creators” evolved from obsessed, possessed, magical shamans chosen by circumstance (not by self will) to artists still serving the Divine and the transcendental through the Church in the West and bureaucratic religions in general…

Look for a possible joint show between Leyba, James Curcio and the other Gonzomentary crew in Philadelphia in Spring or Summer 2013.

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