Steven Keirstead [keirst]
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pI was born in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, to American parents in foreign service, but promptly evacuated with my mother as the War heated up. Our family soon moved to Chiang Mai in Thailand, where my brother James was born. Apparently I used to run around the neighborhood with local kids there, speaking Thai and eating at the neighbors', but I don't remember. My family settled near my mother's hometown of Brevard, North Carolina in late 1968. My brother James and I grew up across the road from farms, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mile from the entrance to the to the Pisgah National Forest. I got my first camera at four years of age, an old Kodak Baby Brownie. Later I learned black white printing with my aunt Patricia Austin, a pro photographer, and helped out in the family photography and music store. As a teenager I became more serious about photography, and borrowed my fatherﾒs Pentax SLRs . At the North Carolina School of Science and Math I learned how to develop black white film./p pI had planned only to major in Biology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, but took so many photography and art history classes that it became easy to add a second major in Art Art History. I was fortunate to study under two terrific photo instructors at the Rice Media Center, Geoff Winningham and Peter T. Brown. I started to print color negative film in 1986, exploring downtown Houston at night with long time exposures. By a year later, I became good enough at color printing that Peter took me on as his darkroom assistant. It was a fabulous experience printing Peter's 4x5quot and medium format color negatives, and talking with him about his photographic explorations of the geography and rural architecture of the Great Plains. Working with Peter taught me better color darkroom habits, and left a lasting impression of how beautiful a fine color photographic print can be. My senior year, I began making 35mm diptychs, and also photocollages inspired by British artist David Hockney's Cameraworks. I turned my camera on friends, dorm and domestic subjects and local Houston street scenes. After graduating in 1987, I pursued a second degree at Rice, a Bachelor of Fine Arts. I concentrated on photography, but also took sculpture, learning to weld steel. During 1987 and 1988, I showed my work extensively on the Rice campus winning the First Place Photography Award, Jones College Art Show, 1988 and the Southside Camera Award, Rice Arts Students Exhibition, 1988 for photocollages. My friend Justine Nowading and I organized an art show at my off campus residence, featuring works of ours and several other Rice students./p pAfter earning the BFA in 1988, I returned to Brevard working a summer as staff photographer for the Brevard Music Center. I documented students at practice, musical performances, and operas. It was a satisfying temporary job. In 1989 I moved to Boston, Massachusetts and worked as a photojournalist for the gay and lesbian newspaper BayWindows. Later that year I found work at the Biology Teaching Labs at Harvard University, where I met the man who would become my constant companion, Lansing Wagner. I continued to work on photography in my spare time, and built a small color darkroom in a walk-in closet in our condominium in Boston. Lansing and I vacationed in Maine and I loved photographing the coast around Brooklin and with Acadia National Park. We began collecting Japanese prints. From 2004 to 2007 I photographed protests for and against same-sex marriage in and around the Massachusetts Statehouse. In November of 2007 I married Lansing./ppDuring spring 2007, I took a History of Japanese Art with Dr. Tanya Ferretto Steel at Harvard. Inspired by Japanese painting and prints, I began to shoot 645 film diptychs around Boston. But I love those I later shot around Maine's Blue Hill Peninsula best. I self-published In Eastern Light, a book of Maine diptychs at the end of 2007 for friends and family.