Becky Wareing Steele

3-D Studio Demo Artist Becky Wareing Steele

Join Becky Wareing Steele in the 3-D Studio demonstrating small sculpture June 16-17, 2018. In the studio, you also can make your own wire and paper artworks.

I’ve always been fascinated with dioramas and their ability to tell a story, evoke an emotion, and connect with the viewer.

– Becky Wareing Steele

Olivia Davies: What will your demonstration at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?

Becky Wareing Steele: For my demo at the DAM I will be continuing work on an ongoing project, Utopia: a new society for all. The project is an exploration into the formation of a new society that exists in concept as well as in physical form as diorama based installation art.

This is an experiment in artistic practice as well as civics and communal living. Anyone can sign up to become a citizen of Utopia (free of charge) and have a miniature representative created to reside in this new Utopia. Citizens can propose changes to this communal society and vote on occasional ballot measures to help shape this world as it grows. During my demo I will be working on an expansion of Utopia as well as initiating new citizens.

OD: What originally inspired you to create small scale work?

BWS: I’ve always been fascinated with dioramas and their ability to tell a story, evoke an emotion, and connect with the viewer. I remember making one of my first dioramas in second grade. The scene was a depiction of wolves in their natural habitat. I spent hours folding origami paper into wolf-like formations and creating a landscape of assorted natural elements to really set the scene. As a child, I also observed my dad working on his model train set in the basement and was immediately drawn in by this ability to create an entirely new world from the ground up. Similarly, I spent a lot of time working on my childhood dollhouse with my mom, creating tiny food from clay to fill the small glass vessels in the kitchen pantry as well as other household objects. Artists often struggle with finding space to create and store their works, and working in a smaller scale has allowed my creative practice to grow and be adaptive to the spaces I occupy.

OD: A lot of your work depicts tiny, sometimes otherworldly environments. How do you come up with these ideas?

BWS: Through my sculptural and photographic work with 1:160 scale scenes, I explore the impact of scale and how it affects our perception of the world around us. This impact can also be found in the way we perceive ourselves in our environment. I am interested in how we relate to the world around us. Many of the scenes I create look closely at our connection to our surrounding environment. Whether that means creating a world that addresses this connection differently than we do in our modern society or other worldly terrains that explore new connections and interpretations of landscape.

tiny "citizens" of New Utopia diorama by Becky Wareing Steele
New Utopia citizens. Photo courtesy of Becky Wareing Steele.

I love when people find a connection to the scenes I create, whether it be something from childhood or a scene bearing a resemblance to a place they’ve visited.

– Becky Wareing Steele

OD: What kind of impact do you want your work to have on your audience?

BWS: I want viewers to find something comforting in my work, a sense of nostalgia within the medium I utilize. I love when people find a connection to the scenes I create, whether it be something from childhood or a scene bearing a resemblance to a place they’ve visited. Most students are introduced to the concept of dioramas early on in their grade school experience so many people have already explored this medium, and there seems to be a sense of excitement when they are reintroduced to it. The tools I use are available to anyone and many of the materials I use are found objects and natural elements. In this way I am able to discuss topics in a way that is inclusive to all, there is no fear of not understanding what they are seeing. I want my work to continue this dialogue with the viewer, empowering people to become part of the conversation and find ways to impact the world around them.

Becky Wareing Steele was born in New Jersey and relocated to Longmont, Colorado at the age of 12. She graduated with a BA in Art History in 2006 with a focus on Intuit Art. In 2009 Becky was a founding member of the Denver Handmade Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on uniting the craft-based art community in the Denver area and beyond. Becky has been working in small-scale sculpture since 2007 and is a current artist in residence at RedLine.

Olivia Davies is a studio and artist programs intern in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum.

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