An Interview with Steve Prince, Collaborating Artist for Black & Blue Comics #1

Updated: Apr 12

Mat Schwarzman, co-founder of B&B Story Project, speaks with artist Steve Prince


MS: Can you tell us a little about your work outside of the Black and Blue Story Project, Steve?

SP: I am the Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Museum. I oversee community engagement, working particularly in art education with all ages: elementary, middle school, high school, college level students, adults, and also the seniors in the community.


I basically try to use the artistic experience or the experiential process of art making as a way in which I can connect with the community and show them the power and the beauty of the arts, in grappling with history, stories, traditions, and so forth.


MS: Can you tell us about your approach in working with middle and high school students?


SP: The key thing is, you have to create an atmosphere that's serious but exciting. You have to create an atmosphere where they have agency, that’s the key. And then of course you have to build a space where they trust you and trust that you have the ability to help them, to guide them, to nurture them and challenge them. And one of the key things as an educator is that you have to pay attention. You have to listen, and that's one of the hardest things to do. And you have to listen very carefully. You have to listen in between the lines.


MS: Tell me about the process so far with Black and Blue Comics. What has worked well?


SP: The process thus far with the Black and Blue project has been a beautiful exploration in imagination, a meaningful exchange between generations about policing in our community, and a careful look at the historical ramifications of race and representation in the United States. The beginning process was focused on building trust and building the foundation for the universe where our story will live.


MS: How will this comic book be an effective tool for driving conversation about public safety?


SP: We live in a visual society, and that has global implications for the production and export of these images. The representation of different culture groups, for better and for worse, have been exported around the world. I have felt the sting of misrepresentation when I have traveled to foreign countries and have seen the damaging constructions that are grafted onto my body. Through the production of this comic book I understand the power that we wield in owning our representation.


Conversely we can use this book as a tool to challenge those constructions by depositing accurate portrayals in the marketplace, providing a deeper interrogation of the societal structures in place, and promoting a call for action across ethnic lines to work together to deal with public safety.


MS: The subject matter our comic book deals with can feel very charged, at times. How do you deal directly with emotional issues that may come up in the artistic process?


SP: The operative word is honesty. I don’t shy from these stories. I'll give you an example in my artwork: I created a linoleum cut piece called Rosa Sparks. It’s an image of Rosa Parks sitting on the bus and the seat is buckling beneath her body. The basic idea of the buckling of Rosa’s seat implies that she is not going to be moved, coupled with her posture, and the spiritual protection that symbolically girds her body. Derived from the book of Ephesians, Paul writes, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and things in high places.” Rosa wears the Armor of God!

"Rosa Sparks," linoleum cut by Steve Price
"Rosa Sparks," linoleum cut by Steve Price

MS: Can you tell me one or two specific ideas you're playing with in the comic book so far?


SP: We have been talking about the span of time the Comic Book would exist in: of past, present and future. We have discussed the importance of the Sankofa concept and the power of looking back and fetching what has been lost and forgotten, and moving forward with that knowledge with the hope of sparking change.


Learn more about Steve and see more of his work at https://steveprincestudio.com/


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