Art Spotlight: Stephen Althouse

Art Spotlight: Stephen Althouse

Wheel I

See his work in Vol. IV #10

Wheel I by Stephen Althouse

Archival pigment print
59.5″ x 88″

Stephen Althouse, 2009. Excerpts from a letter responding to a Museum Collection Researcher at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois:

Weaning Halters, Saw II, and Wheel I were inspired by a friendship between Althouse and Elam Beiler, an Amish Bishop who was the Amish leader in their area. Amish Bishops try to maintain and regulate the religious and cultural traditions within their church districts while simultaneously not loosing [sic] their people to the temptations of mainstream society. It appears that Elam Beiler faced many challenges, and was beginning to confide in the artist:

“….Each time we crossed paths our conversations became deeper and more philosophical.   He [Elam] was carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, especially the relentless pressures on his people for change, and he was interested in my opinion…Elam rarely socialized at his home, so it was special when he had my family over for an evening visit.  The following day in the snowy woods behind his farm he was fatally injured while felling a tree for fire wood…I’ve been mourning his passing for a long time…”

Detail, Wheel I by Stephen Althouse

In Wheel I Althouse integrates phrases borrowed from special songs that were read at Elam Beiler’s funeral from the Ausbund, a sixteenth-century hymnal used solely by the Amish and still printed in old German Fraktur script: “…The carved phrases in Wheel I question which way to turn, and describe the woods as being barren of leaves…”

Text re-printed from with permission from the artist.

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