Steele Clevenger is May’s Artist of the Month


Steele Clevenger is May’s Artist of the Month

At three years old, senior Steele Clevenger remembers drawing on the floor with her father on large drawing pads, watching the preciseness and talent of his creations. She was inspired by her father’s artwork and would often embellish the art pieces that he threw away in order to practice her art skills. Steele’s exposure to art at such a young age contributed immensely to her continual interest in art. 

Steele began her education in the Jesuit Art Program sophomore year. Her enrollment in the art program is all thanks to Jesuit Fine Arts Teacher Sascha Gordon-Manning, who was her temporary art teacher during The Wheel and who recognized her artistic talent. Now a student in Art IV, Steele has enhanced and developed her artistic skills throughout the Jesuit Art Program. 

“It was the second semester [during] the art portion, and we were drawing name tags,” Clevenger said. “I was sitting and drawing my name tag and Ms. Manning said, ‘Steele, see me after class.’” She asked me to join the art program. She offered me the option to do an independent study, so I took that opportunity. Sophomore year I ended in Art II.”

When asked what her first impression of Steele was, Ms. Manning said that Steele was “bright, organized, and self-motivated.”

The transition into the art program presented many challenges for Clevenger. 

“There was a point in my sophomore year where I kept saying to myself I’m not creative enough, and I have lost all of my creativity,” Clevenger said. “Because Art II is such a technique-based class, I was really scared that I was going to lose all of my talent and not get very far as an artist. I think the greatest challenge was trying to find that creativity again.”

Steele’s favorite art style is cartoon and character design and attributes her preference for its abstract nature.  

“Generally, I prefer cartoon and character design,” Clevenger said. “I do not like to draw realistically. I do not like painting. I think if anything, I would like to be as creative as possible when I do any kind of art. I think realistic people who can draw realistically, I have so much respect for, but I feel like if you can take a picture of something then you do not need to draw that thing exactly. Being creative is so much much more freeing and exciting.”

When asked what her greatest strength is as an artist, Steele said it is her ability to have no limits with her art.

“There was a project that we did recently, it was this Avant Garde art project and we were supposed to make a construction out of cardboard and then wear it,” Clevenger said. “I sketched this World War I plane and ended up making pretty much exactly what I wanted, so being able to do that and being able to say I have no limits as to what I can create as an artist has been a really empowering thing that I have learned to adopt.”

Ms. Manning agrees with Steele’s perspective, adding that it is admirable to see her compose such unique artwork.

“I admire Steele’s creative thought process, that she is able to take a challenging assignment and evolve it into something unexpected and original,” Manning said. “I also appreciate her sense of humor that comes through in a composed way…and then she smiles and the joy behind it radiates through the classroom…even on zoom!”

Another example where Steele did not limit herself is found in her favorite art piece called Whale Time History. 

“There’s a comic series that I did called Whale Time History, and I would basically take history lessons that I’ve learned, draw them in my comic form and all of the characters were whales, and I was able to explain the lesson in a way that I understood through these whales,” Clevenger said. “I did six or seven, and I read back over them and they are really really funny and weird.”

When asked what her favorite art piece of Steele’s was, Ms. Manning said, “it’s hard to choose.”

“It’s a tie between Steele’s cartoons, for the fact that her lines are clean, colors are cohesive and there are no unnecessary, extraneous marks,” Manning said. “I especially applauded her Avant Garde fashion construction she created in the Art IV course

this year. She integrated her interest in history with fashion in this unusual, whimsical and well-constructed work that focused on a biplane made of cardboard.”

For her comic and character design projects, Steele said that she draws inspiration from the people around her.

“I have been doing a lot of different comics and characters in general and in fashion-based sketches,” Clevenger said. “I really tend to pick out a person I know in real life and draw them.”

Thanks to her outstanding work in comic and character design, Steele received eight honorable mentions and five silver keys.

Senior Abigail Rawlinson has known Steele since she was three years old and admires her motivation and self-confidence in her art convictions.

“Steele doesn’t do what one would expect an artist to do when she does an assignment,” Rawlinson said. “She’s developed her own style which is very unique from other artists, and she is not afraid to push the boundaries of what the expectation or what the assignment is.”

Fellow art student senior Jamie Turner described Steele as hardworking, hilarious, and kind.

“She’s always been an easy-to-talk-to kind of person and has always been very witty,” Turner said. “She has this really funny sense of humor…sometimes I feel like she should be a comedian. She’s also such a sweetheart.”

Steele’s brother, freshman Gus Clevenger, has always been impressed by Steele’s determined, driven, and creative nature.

“She draws when she feels creative, and when she feels like she can produce something really good, she takes her time with it,” Gus Clevenger said. “She’s patient.”

When asked what advice she would give to beginner artists, Steele said practice, originality, and creativity help to produce one’s best work.

“Practice a lot,” Clevenger said. “Draw everything around you and don’t ever be afraid to draw something that nobody else is drawing. Do whatever makes you happy. Be as creative as possible and practice all the time, do art all the time.”

Now for the big question: Does Clevenger see art in her future?

“I am going to be attending Columbus College of Art and Design,” Clevenger said. “I will be studying industrial design. I definitely, 100%, see art in my future.”