Q+Art: Artist Andrew Steinbrecher Explores the ‘Controlled Chaos’ of City Life
Though Andrew Steinbrecher considers himself an introvert, the multidisciplinary artist adores the hustle and bustle of city life. Based in Cincinnati—the capital city of Southwest Ohio—Steinbrecher uses the “controlled chaos of and dichotomy of urban environments” to create graphic prints, quilts, and fabric collages.
With a background in graphic design, Steinbrecher adeptly transforms infrastructure into abstract designs with strong underlying structure. His works acknowledge cities as living entities with distinct personalities, capable of shucking their preplanned blueprints. “Cities are controlled and regulated, yet they can be very chaotic and organic,” he notes in his artist statement, pointing to crumbling concrete, graffiti, and nature as common agents of chaos. “Most cities are organized into ‘blocks,’” he continues, “yet within these containers there are chaotic and contrasting urban elements.”
Steinbrecher’s stomping ground is a prime example of controlled city chaos. Cincinnati is essentially a city of small towns, made distinct by topography and in-between spaces. To boot, the lower Midwestern city is one county away from Appalachian Ohio, the most mountainous region in the state. Cincinnati’s odd corners, sudden turns, and steep, rolling hills simultaneously hide and accentuate pockets of overgrowth, and give the city a spirited unpredictability.
Traditionally, city overgrowth and decay is seen as a blight, something to be erased, wiped clean, or paved over. Steinbrecher, however, imagines a world where city chaos is proof of our irrepressible nature, and a testament to creative rebellion. His colorful, patterned work examines the slow disintegration of our best laid plans, and allows for spontaneous detours along the way.
In Today’s Q+Art Interview…
Andrew Steinbrecher discusses his fascination with the Bauhaus school, creating online art courses, and daring to design right in the center.
Which books, fiction or nonfiction, belong on every artist’s shelf?
Drew Steinbrecher: Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon.
If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
DS: Any teacher that taught at and any student that studied at the Bauhaus.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
DS: Any kind of gummy candy.
What do you consider your greatest artistic achievement?
DS: It was a major goal of mine to have work chosen for Quilt National.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
DS: If you're going to put something in the center, then put it in the center.
Is a formal arts education worth the money?
DS: Bachelors, yes. MFA, maybe?
What is one thing you would like to change about the art world?
DS: That it could be more inclusive.
Would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist?
DS: Commercially successful.
What are you listening to in the studio right now?
DS: Astor Piazzolla Spotify playlist.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice?
DS: With new free time, I have been able to spend more time in my studio, creating more work, selling more work, and building my art business.
How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact the art world in the long term?
DS: More artists will sell their work directly to their own audience without being part of the gallery system.
What are you working on that you’re excited about right now?
DS: I am in the process of creating online courses. It's a lot of work, but I am excited about sharing my knowledge!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
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