Steve Speeney is an artist, unlike his father and brother who are both engineers…hmm, you might think he’d be considered the black sheep. But the fact is, Steve uses engineering skills every day, both in his teaching and in his artwork. You see, Steve is the graphic design instructor at Watchung Hills Regional High School, but he’s also a budding sculptor who creates finely-calculated pieces of art.
Steve’s story is both interesting and inspirational. A hometown boy, he graduated from the Hills back in 1996 and found that he didn’t quite know what to do with his life. He tried out a few different paths and thought he’d discovered that college, and perhaps school in general, just wasn’t for him. Yet somehow he ended up taking classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University and there he met a person who changed his life. Art professor Judy Moonelis saw something in Steve and urged him to fully develop his artistic side. Her belief in him opened up a new world to Steve and after earning his BS in Graphic Design he went on to study for two different Master’s degrees, one in Educational Technology from Ramapo College and another in Education Instruction at TCNJ.
And so having come full circle, Steve finds himself back at Watchung Hills where he daily works at inspiring students as his art professor once helped him. However, Steve felt the need not only to teach but to create art as well. He began working out intricate designs on graph paper which would eventually become modular constructed sculptures made out of fired ceramic and wood. Each modular piece is carefully engineered to fit together with other pieces, creating complex shapes that carve out space forcefully, almost like an M.C. Escher drawing come to three-dimensional life.
The multimedia depth of these elaborate sculptures fascinates Steve and he strives for depth in the way that people react and relate to his work as well. He wants to know how and why people respond to his sculptures in the way they do and so he is constantly reaching out to his audience, giving his artwork an interactive aspect. Indeed he uses social networking media to interact with his viewers – for example he is currently experimenting with a concept on facebook (www.facebook.com/stevespeeney) where people can tag pictures of his work that they have taken, with the chance to win one of his sculptures as a prize. The concept is called, "Like Me, Tag Me, Win Me." Steve is busy at work right now, both with the start of the school year and with the opening of a solo show of his sculptures to take place at the Nancy Dryfoss Gallery at Kean University in October. We will be blogging about the show with full details in the next few days so stay tuned!
Steve Speeney is active in the Watchung Hills Regional Education Association as well as being a volunteer fireman and Director of Aquatics for a commercial property management company during the summer – we are proud to have such a creative artist and hard-working and inspiring teacher in our midst. We look forward to seeing Steve’s work, both in and outside WHRHS while watching him further grow and develop with time.