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  • Elizabeth Hazard

S. Korey Steckle: An Artistic Journey of Self Discovery and Survival

Multidimensional artist S. Korey Steckle shares a powerful story of survival and creativity. Inspired by the scenic backdrops of his home on the shores of Nova Scotia, Steckle uses the land and ocean to form the colours and shapes of his collages and photography. 

Steckle’s life story is a narrative of profound struggle and remarkable triumph, a journey that shapes his identity and fuels his creative endeavours, namely collaging, photography and writing. Hailing from Bangladesh and placed in an orphanage at birth, Steckle faced challenges from the outset. Fortunately, he was adopted by a family in Canada at four months old, where he still remains today. He speaks of these early days as something that he still struggles with today. Constantly carrying a sense of displacement with him, he says he’s always felt torn between two cultures: his Western Capitalist side and his Bengali roots. 

“I've always felt that if I embrace one side of myself that I will be rejecting the other.” 

His tumultuous past mirrors a cinematic tale of resilience and determination, prompting Steckle to embark on the cathartic journey of penning his memoir. While delving into the depths of his past and the quest for understanding, the process of writing offered him solace and a sense of liberation from the burdens he carried. 

“Writing my memoir was an act that ultimately freed me from the mental anguish that I had suffered from and endured for the majority of my life. I retraced my life’s actions, inaction and feelings surrounding them for better or for worse. I shed light on areas that had lay dormant, festering and lingering and never really releasing from the clenched grip of my mind.”

Steckle also utilises collaging as an artistic medium for self expression, discovery and healing. As he states,“Collaging is an instrument for me to express where my words cannot. It allows me to heal the trauma that has been stored in my brain from past events in my tumultuous life. I’m elevated above my struggles and strife when in the midst of creating.” 

His latest group of work reflects his life’s path outlined in the memoir and his current surroundings on Cape Breton Island, which give him a great source of inspiration. The ice, pounding surf and the seafoam green of the ocean can both be seen and felt in his latest pieces. When asked to describe it, he says that it has a cold, sterile and industrial aesthetic.

"Using my favourite colours, the work is inspired by the long, harsh and unforgiving winters I’ve endured since living on Cape Breton Island since 2006. I believe my frequent visits to my father’s sprocket/auger production and manufacturing plant over the years also plays a major factor in the construction, angles and rigid lines in my work. His drafting table, blueprints and drawing tools were part of my early childhood and it fascinated me to pour myself into the wonders of detail and finite moments in life.”

Whilst his visual surroundings are important, sound also play a role in how he creates. “I rely on brown noise on a loop and or noise cancelling headphones to work in solitude with my thoughts and instinctual eye. I utilise the power of music as well to help focus or relax my mind depending on the situation. Whether painting in the studio, cutting through stacks of periodicals or by the ocean atop a cliff at 6am or at sunset, music has played a creative role in my life since an early age.”

Steckle’s work is all the more thought - provoking when you consider how the collages are a visual analogy for his own life story. He’s constantly searching for the pieces of his life that he’s missing and looking for ways to join these pieces together in a coherent fashion. With collaging, there’s also some sense of control. He chooses the colours, the shapes, the patterns, and uses experimentation to see what comes together best for a cohesive form. It’s through this process that Steckle heals from past trauma and why he hopes to help others who might be on their own journey to find answers. 

“My hopes are to help others who are currently struggling with bullying, racism, drug addiction, alcoholism, adoption and cultural issues. I want to help by shedding a light into the dark recesses of my mind and my heart that accompanied me through the ultimate highs and lows of my day-to-day existence. To break free from the shackles that held me down and twisted my outlook on my friends, my family and my lovers, on the world and on my bleak future at the time, is what I have sought from the beginning. In the end I feel as if I represent and embody dark and light. My art reflects my broken and fractured spirit.”

S. Korey Steckle finds purpose and strength through his art. His work sheds light on a personal journey filled with great trauma but also triumph. His story is of survival and as a thriving artist with worldwide solo exhibitions and representation at major galleries, he is proof that our beginnings don’t define our story’s ending. 

To view more of Steckle’s work, follow him on Instagram and visit his website. 


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