[Aaron] Stephan lives in Portland’s gritty Bayside neighborhood with Lauren- John C.L. Morgan
Fensterstock, and he shares a large studio space with a blacksmith on the light
industrial outskirts of the city. Currently, he is at work on a $34,000 Percent
for Art commission for the new Westbrook Middle School. Return, as the
site-specific middle school installation is called, takes the form of a
twenty-two-foot carpentered tree erupting from the floor of the school’s atrium.
When Stephan discovered that the school was built on the site of the old
Cumberland-Oxford Canal that once carried logs to the Westbrook paper mill, he
set about finding logs that had been submerged in Maine lakes, milling them into
lumber, and building a new tree out of the old trees. "I see my art practice as
being a dialogue with the world through stuff," says Stephan. "The stuff can say
so much. I am exploring the ways that things can teach."
Related: On Westbrook Middle School's Public Art (March 8, 2010)