Colby Stephens – Hermes

Hermes. Kinetic sculpture, wood veneer. 2014. From American Pantheon.

Together these two roosters, Hamilton (left) and Burr (right), make up the Hermes character for the American Pantheon. Ironically, traditional Greek mythology makes Hermes (whose icon is a rooster) the god of both dishonesty and the news media. These two roosters conduct 15 minute cockfights three times per hour, as their movement and clucking/gun shot is determined by an electrical translation of a live feed of news radio from different news networks. The noise is obnoxious and uncomfortable, and based on the historical reference to the Hamilton-Burr Duel it encourages one to consider the role of the news media in divisive rhetoric.

Colby Stephens Reno, NV.

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 enter it 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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