Prometheus’ Regret by Kevin Sloan
Concluding my feature on his wonderful work, this week I’m posting an interview with contemporary allegorical realist painter, Kevin Sloan. I think you’ll love Kevin’s enlightened view of the world and his tips about creating enchantment, mystery and joy!
Fiona: Your lovely web site mentions that at the core of your work is a deep concern and respect for our planet, particularly it’s “silent inhabitants” – the animals and plants we share this world with. Where did your interest in and passion for our natural world come from?
Kevin Sloan: It may have started as child. I spent a lot of time outside as a kid, playing and day dreaming in a semi-undeveloped area near our house. I could see plants go though the cycle of the season in a wild environment, play in a small stream and see birds and bugs going about their business. I always felt more safe in nature than around people as a kid so I think I also equate the natural world with a feeling of familiarity and safety.
Fiona: Your work is informed by early natural history artists from the “Age Of Discovery”, when artists painstakingly illustrated the newly discovered natural world. I love how you combine an aesthetic from that time with symbolism of the modern world and today’s society as well as what feels to me to be a psychological commentary. Am I connecting the dots in the right way there?
Kevin Sloan: I agree. I think whenever two very discordant things are placed together there exists the possibility of a new kind of narrative. In other words, the juxtaposition of an animal interacting with an electrical cord create the possibility of some kind of story and it may take the form of a personal or emotional one. What does it feel like to be a natural, organic being and have to interact with technology so intimately? What does that do to our psyche over time? Or, what does this juxtaposition symbolize personally – does that interaction feel entrapping, or is it an elegant dance, a part of the new technological era we live in?
Fiona: Do you think our “new world” that we are discovering and documenting now could be a spiritual and psychological one?
Kevin Sloan: I certainly hope so! I think that we often don’t realize the new spiritual and psychological insights we are making until after we have been going down that road for a while. Changes like these are more subtle and deep and are not always apparent at first. We are quick to recognize and embrace changes in technology or other external influences but matters of the soul take more time.
Fiona: I love that unlike those natural history artists from the 1700′s to 1900′s you are freed from the need to describe for science. So when you describe the natural world and our interaction with it (in your art) through an allegorical, social or political lens, where does that impulse begin? Is it a question you have or an issue you have been contemplating that leads you to creating of a new painting?
Kevin Sloan: The work of the past few years have dealt with a fairly simple theme, what happens when the natural world interacts with the modern, technological world? This painted answers to this question take many forms in my work. A bird may be entangled with a serpentine, orange extension cord. In another piece, a forlorn penguin stands on a beach looking down at an orange, vintage teacups balanced preciously on his head. While both very different images, they share the common theme of trying to picture through allegory the challenges facing the natural world in these rapidly changing times.
Fiona: What is it about allegory and how it relates to surrealist art, in particular, that’s such a powerful tool in communicating ideas and emotions?
Kevin Sloan: Allegory and surrealist art allow the narrative being described to become more open ended, more like poetry than prose for example. It allows the viewer to participate more intimately in the experience by letting them project their own emotional responses onto the artwork. In doing so the artwork becomes a living conversation between the art, the artist and the viewer. Or at least that is possible!
Fiona: I recently purchased “It’s Time”, one of your limited edition prints, and love how I am able to perceive my own messages in the symbolism of the piece. It’s been really interesting to see how others react to it as well. What were you thinking about in creating that piece?
“It’s Time” by Kevin Sloan
Kevin Sloan: One idea I was working with in that piece is the idea of time standing still, passing quickly by or some place in between those extremes. The rabbit for me symbolizes frenetic, nervous energy. He sits upon the turtle which for me represents grounded, slow, steady energy. When they are placed together those two energies create balance. They have arrived at the scene where a clock is presented and they are viewing the time – it’s just the right time, not too soon, not too late.
Fiona: Allowing others to draw their own conclusions from my work as a songwriter is something relatively new to me and I think it’s something artists may do particularly gracefully. How do you feel about the numerous ways people may perceive your work? Do you ever feel the need to convey one unmistakable message or are you ok with keeping it open to interpretation?
Kevin Sloan: I encourage all viewers of my work to bring their own interpretations to the work. I’m often delighted to hear the things people will say the work represents to them – often times things I never would have thought of! In this way, my hope is that the images will have meaning over time, far past my time and culture. Hopefully the images are timeless and archetypal enough to resonate to people from many different cultures and times.
Fiona: To me you seem like an incredibly articulate guy with a high emotional I.Q and could have contributed greatly to the world with anything you pursued. What inspired you to become an artist and study fine art, in particular?
Kevin Sloan: I believe we all have an innate need to be heard and in some small or large way express how we see the world. For me making pictures started to feel very good and natural in my early teens. Back then, I studied and made art because I just felt better when I made things! Anything – paintings, drawing, pottery, jewelry, etc., I liked it all. I still feel better when I make art however the desire is much deeper now. That early joy I felt has now revealed a personal visual language I continue to explore and use to express my feelings about being alive in this crazy, magnificent world.
Fiona: It seems to me that as an artist with your perspective and interests you are well equipped to create an enchanted life for yourself and others. Do you have any tips for our readers as to how they might create a little enchantment in their own lives?
Enchantment, mystery, joy – it’s all out there just waiting to be noticed. In the very fast and cluttered world we live in it’s sometimes difficult to notice, but it’s all there. For me, I have to consciously remember to slow down, breathe a little more deeply and slowly and just look. Driving to and from my studio each day has it’s challenges – most commutes do. However, I am always amazed at the quirky, unexpected and often beautiful things I see as I sit with all the others in traffic. The phone is not used, I accept that we’re moving at a snail’s pace and there’s nothing I can do about it and I just start looking around. Sometimes all I get is a giant swath of brilliant, blue sky but that’s enough! This awareness makes the “background” world come to the foreground for just a moment and in doing so it’s all new and alive again.
To learn more about Kevin’s amazing work please visit kevinsloan.com
For information on Kevin’s limited edition prints click here.
Create An Enchanted Life blog author, Fiona Kernaghan.
For more about me please visit fionakernaghan.com. My music is available for preview and purchase on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes worldwide. Share the love!