My Signature for Sculpture

This is my new signature for my sculptures. Your first instinct is to try and sort out this by assuming it is my initials; it is not. Like my sculptures, my primary guiding principle is to make things that don't look like anything. This is my attempt to disempower the systemic representational mistakes we have been subject to for the last 60 years. Postmodernism introduced social outrage as a function of visual art, which I have grappled with for years, and only now, in my advanced years, can I see clearly and understand with a greater perspective. Growing up in the turmoil and social outrage of the 1960s formed my identity, and I became forever connected to standing for justice, social and women's rights, and speaking truth to power. I believe this is true: social outrage is not something visual art can significantly affect. If it had, the artwork I made in support of these things in the past, along with all the other activist artists, would have moved us much closer to a world in which suffering and injustice would have long since been rooted out and removed from our society. Sadly, this truth, the lack of progress in the face of increased visibility, is undeniable.


My work is currently abstract. As I stated, my primary focus is to make things that do not look like anything. It is purposeful on my part because the world is a place where we are surrounded by representation and symbolism, leaving unacknowledged truths of our humanity. It is much easier to use ideological illusions to comfort ourselves into believing that who and what we are is good and that we always know or can find truth through ideology, language, and symbolism. Art's reason for being is not attached to some social, intellectual, or political function. That has been the arts raison d'etre for decades. Happily, I think a return to the aesthetics, beauty, and the sublime will happen as we try to find reasons for our humanity once more.


Abstractness has the benefit and problem of allowing us to be free from attachment to the things we want to be able to identify and find comfort in our definitions, perspectives, and ideologies. As I write the final chapter of Gregory Steel's life and work, this is my driving force. 

My signature was inspired by David Smith's use of Delta and Sigma, two letters from the Greek alphabet for his signature. Mine is simply two elements from the scientific periodic table of elements. Fe is the symbol for iron, and C is the symbol for carbon. Combining iron and carbon creates steel. 


My early family life left me broken and disconnected. Never feeling grounded, welcome, or truly a part of something, art became my family and my retreat from a world that did not seem to want me. Some years ago, I changed my name to establish myself in the only world I found comfort in. Sculptures made from steel, the struggles they present, and my early work in the factories in Detroit forged me into the person I am. Changing my name because my birth father abandoned me to a mother who always saw me as a reflection of him and never let me forget, and that drove me to find another way. 


The birth lottery supports and creates privilege and illusions that condemn the rest of us to fall down the rabbit hole. The people closest to me used and harmed me more than any stranger or enemy could. Art is my refuge, where I genuinely exist, and the only real reason I can point to for my existence. I live purposefully outside the comforting illusions of social systems. I answer to reality alone, not to the masters of a world bent on using human potential for profit. 


My name is Gregory Steel (FeC); I make sculptures.



New web page

Hi, I created a new website for many reasons, not least for the ability to manage my website alone and not be highly dependent on IT people to perform the simplest of tasks. I hope you will visit often and consider joining my mailing list to inform you of shows, events, and new blog posts. The small sculpture above is titled "Body, mind, spirit," a work that represents my obsession philosophically with the number three and its inclusion and importance in religious and cultural connotations.

I lean heavily on phenomenology as an object maker and sculptor. Quiet contemplation is part of my daily practice, and my artwork tries to provide the viewer with the same opportunity.