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STEVEN HARPER

Nothing comes from nothing. Everything has its roots in some previous occurrence. Everything is inspired by something.
In 1977 I lived with my family in Stillwater, Oklahoma. One day, my parents took me to Oklahoma City to pick up my sister from the airport. We went early so that they could take me to see a movie that was quickly becoming a major phenomenon. I still remember the rush of excitement, astonishment, and impending adventure that hit me as that giant star destroyer came into frame--and kept coming and coming—getting larger, filling the frame, and eclipsing everything else. 

In a way, that was very much like my relationship with this movie. Before Star Wars, my friends and I played war, cowboys, knights, pirates, gangsters, or any number of other “little boy” games. After I saw Star Wars, that's all there was. It had everything. My big brother's handed-down bike ceased to be a Schwinn with ram curl handlebars, banana seat, and a sissy bar, and instead became my own personal X-wing fighter flying in formation toward the Death Star. Little plastic action figures invaded my bedroom, occupied Christmas and my birthday, and sent my dear mother calling relatives in at least three states searching for a coveted tauntaun. (She found it, by the way, in a feed and seed store on the outskirts of Stillwater). 

My mother also figures prominently in the creation of this show. About this same time in the ‘70s, Mom had enrolled in a film course at OSU, and she took me along to screenings of classic movies. I saw Chaplin, Casablanca, and Alexander Nevsky's battle on the ice. I was struck by the gold robot Maria from Metropolis and the swashbuckling Errol Flynn. It may have been in one of these classes when I first heard that George Lucas was inspired by the films of Kurosawa, the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials, and old westerns. 

On repeated viewings of Star Wars (and that may be putting it mildly... I saw it 176 times in the theater when it first came out, and have easily seen it over 1000 times total), I started to notice the “bone structure” of the myths and legends that Lucas used to work his magic. The recurring roles—the stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte—were all there: the villain, the young novice setting out on a quest, the wise old wizard who offers assistance, the damsel. My mother explained the literary concept of the anti-hero to me, using Han Solo as the example. That's what this show is really about: the visual and iconic inspirations for an epic imaginary world. The Cantina on Tatooine may be foreign, but we've all been there before. The drifters and rovers and gunslingers who make us realize that "we must be careful" are all familiar roles.

Collage seems to be the perfect medium to me for this show, although it is a bit of a departure for me artistically. This movie, this Myth for a modern age, was pieced together out of images and characters from the past. For my parents, both children during WWII, I'm sure it was disturbing, or at least peculiar, to hear their youngest son playing with toy "stormtroopers." Everything comes from something. Cowboys, pirates, Samurai, wizards, philosophers, dark knights and fools all play their parts in our world, in Lucas' creation, and in my works for this show. It seems only logical to collect them all and present them together. I hope you enjoy them.