August 2016 Artist in Residence: John Steck Jr.

From  Pictures of You

From Pictures of You

This month, John Steck Jr. will be in the lab working as our Artist in Residence. John will be producing books from his series Pictures of You.

John Steck Jr. is a visual artist from Chicago who received his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited across fifteen states as well as in Iceland, Hungary and Tokyo. His book Fragments, Volume One was selected as Best Books of 2010 on Photoeye. Recent publications include Romka Magazine, Aint Bad Magazine, The Ephemeral, The Hand Magazine, Incandescent, LDOC and Der Greif. He has work in the Permanent Art Collection’s of the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the DePaul Art Museum, both in Chicago, IL.

Steck is a current Adjunct Faculty at Waubonsee Community College and an Instructor of Fine Arts at Loyola University. He has recently been an Artist in Resident at HATCH Projects (Chicago, IL), VU Photo (Quebec City, Canada) and at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) where he received a Fellowship Award.

Read our Q + A with John below!

Your work seems to touch on ideas of personal and collective memory, specifically in the case of your work with unfixed silver gelatin prints. Would you talk a little about your series of disappearing photographs?

This series of Disappearing Photographs has evolved over the last five years, starting from a naive concept of trying to erase memory, into trying to speak about collective memory and the trust we put into photographs. I allow my images to disappear so that the physical photographs are changing the same way we are. I believe that most people rely on photography to be a permanent time capsule, but what I want people to get from this body of work, is the fact that photographs are just as impermanent as we are. 

Bookmaking is a large part of your practice. Could you speak to narrative and culling and sequencing? How does working in book format in turn inform your photographs?

Bookmaking has been key in my process as a visual artist because it has always allowed me to read my work in a new light. Editing is one of the hardest parts of dealing with ones own work, so I find that working in the book structure allows me to feel out my work my work differently. I get to descale my images, make them bigger, print them on papers I never thought I’d put certain images on, turn them into objects and force myself to read them in a structured format.

Though using narrative to help sequence my books is really helpful to bring projects together, I find that the real reward of making books is how it helps me to retransform the projects in my studio and exhibition practices. This usually happens because I really like my books to become more about their physical presence and how the book structure can lend itself to the projects. This in turn helps me to rethink how my projects will exist on the wall, whether that is in my studio, in a gallery, or even online. 

What is your most current project, and what do you plan to work on while at LATITUDE?

I will be completing two small edition books during my Artist in Residency at Latitude, both of the same project, called Pictures of You. This project consists of disappearing photographs of every known photograph of me and my mother together. The first book will be a box of actual prints that will fade with each viewing, while the other will be a printed rendition of this project, showcasing the nearly faded aspect of some of the images in this series. 

View more of John's work and projects on his site and blog at