Collection Highlight

Dan Steeves’ crossing a threshold

More Collection Highlights
In this black-and-white image, a football game takes place on a field that is also a tidal landscape with rock outcroppings and a tidal fence.

Dan Steeves’ crossing a threshold

In this large black-and-white etching, a football game is taking place on an expanse of rocky shoreline. A tidal fence cuts through the playing field, separating the two teams and becoming the line of scrimmage. Twenty-four players engage in the push and pull of a game under impossible circumstances.

Dan Steeves uses football as a metaphor for the opposing forces of good and evil. The setting is the shoreline of the Fundy coast, a landscape that appears in many of the artist’s works. Steeves finds promise in this setting, where he sees “hope in the constancy of the sea.”

Dan Steeves’ work has been exhibited in public and institutional galleries in Canada, the United States, Holland, China, England, Korea, Russia, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Taiwan, and the Ukraine. His prints are represented internationally in both public and private collections. He is represented by the Abbozzo Gallery of Toronto, Ontario.

Steeves is part-time lecturer in the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University, the recipient of prestigious awards including Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation and the New Brunswick Strathbutler Award for excellence in the arts, was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011, and was born in Riverview, New Brunswick. Steeves received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison in 1981.

Dan Steeves, crossing a threshold, 2009, intaglio on paper, 45 x 100 cm. Gift of the Campbell-Verduyn Family. Collection of the Owens Art Gallery.

Interview with Dan Steeves

Preliminary Studies and Stage Proof for crossing a threshold

While planning the print crossing a threshold, 2009, Dan Steeves began by making sketches and studying a home game between rival teams—the Saint Mary’s Huskies and the Mount Allison Mounties. He took over 150 photographs in order to build the composite arrangement of players used in the final print.

Interested in the lines of scrimmage and push and pull motions of the teams, he converted the photographs into transparencies and projected the 24 players to create the final composition.

Zinc Plates for crossing a threshold

“I’ve done it so many times but I think as well it is an end. I think the edition is the end of the print … but once this is done there’s just a sense that it’s over. I mean I would never go back and reprint a plate no matter what the circumstances were.” — Dan Steeves

When a printmaking edition is complete, the matrix, in this case the zinc plates, are “cancelled” by crossing out the surface, so no further prints can be taken from the plates.

crossing a threshold

The title for crossing a threshold, like for many more of Steeves’ prints, was extracted from a letter he received from his friend and author Mark Harris. “Crossing a threshold” implies an acceptance of change or a transition to Harris.

Steeves maintains a file of letters from his friend with potential titles circled to apply to his images. Steeves says “these letters have been a lifeline in my work”, and in exchange for inspiring the title for the image, the Author receives a final print from the Artist. This collaboration has been ongoing for years.

Related Publication

This publication was produced in conjunctions with the exhibition Dan Steeves: crossing a threshold held at the Owens Art Gallery from 17 September to 17 October 2010.

Introduction by Jane Tisdale
Design by Tara Wells