Alfred Steiner

Artist Statement

I spent my elementary school years in rural Ohio—in a big pile of animal parts. My best friend’s dad had a VCR and three VHS tapes, Star WarsCheech and Chong’s Next Movie and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The last was my favorite, and not just because its fictional events took place on the day I was born. There’s a scene in it where one of the nubile victims stumbles into a room strewn with bones—mostly animal—at once terrifying and rustic in the yellow Texas sun. Not to be outdone, my friend and I discovered a boneyard ourselves while roaming a nearby farm, and harvested a few cow skulls that we cleaned with bleach. There was also a fur dealer who lived nearby in a dank hovel just past the creek. In our only encounter, I watched this man enthusiastically carve out the heart of a fox and hand it to me. A second canine figures into this period, this time a Jack Russell terrier that leapt into the air to catch the freshly severed testicles of a goat that my mom was child-proofing for a petting zoo. But none of those experiences prepared me for the day I stepped off my bus and opened the mailbox to find a disembodied blue eyeball staring back at me. Lowering the door of the box, I peered in to find the milky, apple-sized orb suspended in a jar of formaldehyde. It was an unsolicited gift from our veterinarian, who was ostensibly indulging my predilection for the anatomical. Pressing my memory for other seminal experiences involving entrails, I come up empty. But I do remember my friend telling me that his dad had a fourth videotape: Adult Cartoons.