Interview with Adam Stennett

by Barry Neuman

Barry Neuman: The content of much of your work concerns rodents. One work featured a tiny mouse living within a picture frame. Many other works are paintings that depict mice and rats in dark and peculiar environments, ambling about. Oddly enough, the work with the actual mouse seemed more benevolent than the ones with the depictions. What role does the rodent perform in your work?

Adam Stennett: For me the paintings and constructions containing mice aren't really about the mice.
Throughout time and across cultures, mice and rats have been used in storytelling, folk tales, and myth. Whether we like to admit it or not, we seem to share a connection with mice and rats. They have played complex roles in our lives. They have carried diseases and helped us find cures for diseases. Mice and rats routinely outsmart us, and they are everywhere we are.

Some of what I explore in my work are the moments that goes unnoticed: the small truths that surround us but might be more comfortable to ignore. Mice seem like an effective and fertile metaphor to explore these ideas and others.

BN: Hyperrealist painting and conceptual sculpture are rarely produced by one and the same artist. Can you please describe how this dichotomy of approaches came to be?

AS: In order to allow myself the time to make paintings I've worked a lot of different jobs and have lived in some very raw and unfinished spaces. Out of necessity I taught myself plumbing, electricity, gas pipe re-routing, drywall, and various other necessary building skills. At some point, I realized it would be foolish not to consider these experiences when looking for a solution to a particular problem or exploring possible directions for my work. I like making paintings and I like building things. I think one will find a consistent voice in all my work no matter the medium.

BN: In literature, one encounters the "country mouse" and the "city mouse." What kind of mice inhabit your works?

AS: I intend the mice in my work to escape these kinds of boxes.

BN: And beyond "mousedom?" What shall audiences expect?

AS: Loneliness and heartbreak.

Adam Stennett's work is included in "Airtight Plan For Killing," a group exhibition at Buia Gallery, New York, from October 17 to November 29, 2003.


Source: Neuman, Barry, Interview with Adam Stennett, BOILER, contemporary aesthetics and cultural (r)evolutions, News, Reviews, Novemeber 22, 2003,