by Julia Arnold-Hess
Fine Arts teacher and artist Darius Steward had a very big year. If artists are inspired by stressful life events -- good and bad -- Steward should have a substantial well of creativity to draw on after 2016.
The year started on a positive note. Steward was awarded a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowship by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC). The fellowship provided a $15,000 grant plus promotional and other benefits.
Then in June, Steward was among 19 artists who created individual murals along the Cleveland RTA Red Line. His mural depicts children playing on swings.
November held the year’s most precious gift: he and his wife, Angela Steward, welcomed their second child, a baby girl. A few weeks later, in December, Steward’s mother died.
In the midst of it all, Steward has continued to teach Fine Arts at Saint Ignatius. This is his sixth year on the faculty. He has taught many courses, including Digital Photography, Drawing, and Film Study.
“It’s a great place to teach,” says Steward. He is grateful for having quality resources and supplies on hand.
“Saint Ignatius really believes in its students, and takes the time and effort to make sure people get what they need,” he says.
Steward also appreciates the fact that students at the school are generally well-behaved. Not wasting time on discipline enables him to make the most of class time.
“It comes down to whether I can get them to focus for 40 minutes and get everything done within that time frame,” Steward says.
Longtime Fine Arts teacher Joe Buzzelli believes Steward is able draw out the artist in all students, regardless of skill level.
“Darius is one of the most engaging, patient, talented and instructive artist-educators you could ask for. He brings the talent and skill of a gifted visual artist to the studio at Ignatius, as witnessed by his many exhibits in which his own personal works are on display. He works with his students to create communication through emotional artistic renderings. Each student is treated as a unique and special artist in progress and Darius is able to have them stretch their expectations and skills to levels not thought possible. He is a Renaissance man that sees the beauty and message within the rock and can teach others to peel away the layers to find the inner glow of beauty within,” says Buzzelli.
Teaching is an art Steward learned from the masters. His favorite teacher at the Cleveland School of the Arts was Andrew Hamlett, who taught drawing and painting. But perhaps his most influential teacher wasn’t a teacher at all, but rather his aunt.
“My Auntie used to draw comics for fun. When I was young, I would always copy her,” says Steward.
He received his undergraduate degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) and master’s degree from the University of Delaware. He still has strong ties to CIA, where he mentors students and serves on panels.
Steward doesn’t have a studio at the moment. But he does have space to paint and draw when he’s feeling inspired.
“I do a majority of my work at home,” he says.
Editor's Note: If you're near the Euclid Avenue Bridge over the Inner Belt, you'll see artwork by our very own Fine Arts teacher Darius Steward! Read more about the meaning behind his work at: http://bit.ly/2KMAcTJ