Steven started drawing at a very young age and went to the San Francisco School of Art, born in 1966 and raised in Arkansas, he took his inspiration from roaming in the woods and seeing organic materials in all it forms, living, dying. He became fascinated with organic materials and continue to use anything he can lay his hands on in his collages. He puts himself in his collages, which are visions of a pretty bleak society where in his opinion, the soul is gone missing. He is a very intense artist and his collages often have the tints and colouring of old masters.
Steven Johnson Leyba is an artist, painter, fine art bookmaker, author, spoken word performance artist, director and musician.” I see my mixed media sexual paintings as political reclamations. The sexual image is used to sell everything from cars to toothpaste, as if our bodies have become products we no longer own. I paint oil over acrylic over collage. I embellish the paintings with glass beads and blood. They are very sexually graphic, sculptural, human, and quite original. I use the blood to flatten the photographic quality. I then paint back the detail that I feel is important. Blood and sex are part of being human and being alive. We are so used to having our culture define how we perceive ourselves, our bodies, our sexuality, and who we are, that when someone has a different point of view of the sexual image and makes the commitment to put it on canvas, it can be frightening and challenging. As a Native American, the blood has a ritual aspect, and it is a way to put myself–my DNA–literally into the painting. My paintings are ritual objects and they are sexual artifacts.”
“I have been a controversial artist for almost two decades. I am an artist that holds a mirror up to society to show its cracks. While most American artists strive for “rock star” status and easy money, I embrace the warrior philosophy of my Apache ancestors, one that focuses instead on world politics, controversy, radical sexuality, unconventional religion, revenge, the reclaiming of controversial symbols, the use of sex acts and blood rituals, and painting with my own bodily fluids. I see the unique position American artists have in influencing the world. I do not choose to be an entertainer, but rather an enlightener and instigator. I am an aesthetic war starter in the Native American tradition of the “Coyote the Trickster.” Coyote never chooses camp or kitsch above content and truth.”
“I am a complicated sell in a sugarcoated, dumbed-down global art market. Contemporary world culture puts marketability over substance, corporate rights over individual rights, one type of beauty over all others, stupidity over content and common sense. In the age of mediocre global mass culture anything smart and good is bad and may be a threat to our western consumer culture, the economy, or even international security. I am a Prometheus in a Mickey Mouse world who chooses to look past the bread and circus of our cultural traps to embrace the full human experience.”
Link to Steven’s site