Colby Stephens – I Believe We Will Regret the Centennial

I Believe We Will Regret the Centennial. Woodcut print, steel, latex paint. 2012. From Normalcy, Not Nostrums. The early 20th century saw radical experiments in massive economic overhauls:

The Federal Reserve in the United States and the Soviet Revolution in Russia. Given that these radical changes happened only a few years apart, Stephens finds the conceptual connections between them to be quite compelling. The Nostrums body of work incorporates appropriated compositions from Soviet poster makers. Each of the appropriated compositions originally dealt with some issue related to economics, and is subsequently recontextualized to address contemporary American economic issues. To relate the new composition to the original, the original poster composition is painted onto the wall behind the prints. In the case of this image, a industrial worker and a farmer shake hands confirming that the Soviet Revolution (and thereby the economic stability it would bring) would be something they would celebrate in 100 years. The recontextualized version which was originally presented just shy of the 99th anniversary of the Fed states, “I believe we will regret the Centennial.” Now, 100 years after the inception of the Fed, the dollar has lost 99% of its value and the working class is disappearing as the wealth disparity between the top 1% of earners and the rest of Americans (Farmers and industrial workers alike) as a direct result of Fed policy (i.e.: Quantitative Easing).

Colby Stephens Reno, NV. www.colbystephens.com

About the Artist.

Dissatisfied with the current divisive discourse present in American politics, Colby Stephens makes work that seeks to reframe the conversations that surround political topics. Stephens intends to foster a more thoughtful engagement with political issues ranging from economic policy to the use of military drones than what is currently present in popular media outlets. To do this, Stephens situates his critiques of political structures in historical and constitutional contexts rather than relying on ever prevalent “bumper sticker doctrine.” Rooted in extensive research, Stephens takes large concepts and breaks them down into units a process he refers to as the stratification of information. To this end, every aesthetic decision serves to communicate an idea, and intends to foster a discussion. Frequent use of allegory and mythology allows Stephens to address complex issues in ways that allow viewers to engage with the work, and enterit at myriad levels.

Stephens’ first large body of work, Normalcy, Not Nostrums, critiques Federal Reserve policy on issues ranging from the non-market-based approach to manipulating the federal funds rate, to fiat currency, to the very principle of central banking. His second large body of work, American Pantheon, a project based on a myth Stephens designed, situates the Nostrums critique in the larger theater of American politics today.

Stephens expects to receive his MFA degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in May 2014. He lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife and fellow artist Claire Stephens. Together, the pair share a passion for the outdoors and backcountry adventure.

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