Steven and William Ladd: Artists’ Statement

Photo credit Nick Lee, 2015

Photo credit Nick Lee, 2015

Before we are artists, we are brothers. We are based in New York City, but our large, loving Midwestern family is at the heart of our values and our work. Our art has evolved from meticulously hand-crafted fashion accessories to abstract portraits of shared memories, places, people and experiences. In them, we transform everyday materials, such as belting textiles, used fabric, beads, metal trinkets or paper, into works of art. We share a passion for recycling. We collaborate with glassmakers. We love to sew, bead, brainstorm and draw.

We tease and laugh and talk as we work, shaping the development of each piece over time. The physical process is painstaking and unpredictable. William may create hundreds of intricate tiny tree forms from glass beads, or weave beads into translucent seven-foot panels. We have made life-sized trees from papier-mâché, infestations of half-inch cast metal ants, and gigantic cartoon bombs from blown glass. Our ideas often emerge in spontaneous drawings worked over and over and later compiled in unique hand-sewn books. Whatever form it takes, each work expresses our core aesthetics, our deepest feelings, and our joy in life.

Our artistic vocabulary is articulated through a wide range of techniques and approaches. It is always evolving. Our pieces often have different states – for example, we hand craft boxes, fill them with scrolls made from recycled belting material and embellish them with pinned trinkets and beads. They may be closed and stacked in elegant and austere tower arrangements; opened and displayed in grids on a wall; or spread out in “landscape” formations on the floor. Sometimes, we open the boxes in rhythmic, choreographed performances that reveal unexpected hidden contents. Seemingly soft surfaces may disguise jagged pins and dangers we call “infections” or “wounds.” It is all part of our world.

We find everyday people endlessly inspiring, so we’ve figured out ways to interact with all kinds of communities – from school children and their families to special needs groups, patients at hospitals, and inmates at correctional facilities. They create their own objects and contribute to a collaborative work.

Everything we do embodies our core values: Spend your life doing what you love. Be focused and disciplined. Collaborate.