Southeastern University Pastor/Professor Is a Painter By Night


Steven Felix works on a painting in his Winter Haven attic studio. "You have to make art that's true to you," the 27-year-old youth pastor says.

MICHAEL WILSON/THE LEDGER
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.

By day, 27-year-old Steven Felix is many things: an adjunct professor at Lakeland's Southeastern University, a youth pastor at Beymer United Methodist Church in Winter Haven and a PhD candidate at the University of Wales in the United Kingdom.

But when the sun goes down, Felix climbs the creaky stairs to the un-air-conditioned attic of his Winter Haven home and puts on yet another hat — that of a painter.

Felix has been spending his attic evenings working on a new nine-piece series titled "trans(form+figure)," which will be exhibited at The Loft Art Gallery at 123 S. Kentucky Ave. in Lakeland this June.

"The idea behind it is transformation and transfiguration on a spiritual level," Felix said.

Each of the nine pieces depicts a figure, whether it be a person or an object, that has transformed, such as people with body modifications or a halfway remodeled home.

Another way Felix pushes this concept of transformation to the forefront is the medium he works with.

"I take a decorative piece of art from Hobby Lobby or something and gesso a portion of it to use as my canvas," Felix said. "It's my way of transforming a piece of commercial art that is worth maybe $50 to a piece of fine art that is worth much more."

Of course, Felix did not just wake up one morning with beautiful conceptual work flowing from his fingertips. He had a father who saw gifts in his son and did what he could to cultivate them.

"I've been drawing as long as I can remember. Literally, I was like 3 or something when my Dad got me a big roll of paper to draw cartoons on."

Eventually, Felix landed at Florida Southern College, where he graduated in 2007, double majoring in studio art and theology. From there, he received a master's degree in ministerial leadership from Southeastern in 2009, and will be defending his doctoral dissertation in theological aesthetics this year.

Felix says his faith always makes its way into his work.

"You have to make art that's true to you. Whatever you are devoted to will come through in your art," he said. "My stuff is not explicitly Christian, but because my faith is so strong my work tends to take on a spiritual significance."

After finishing his PhD, Felix plans to tackle yet another degree — a master of fine arts degree in painting.

"I want to get the MFA and get more education so that I can be a better teacher," Felix said. "That's what I want – to be both a working artists and a professor."

If you would like to recommend an artist for "Perspectives," contact Clifford Parody at clifford.parody@theledger.com or 863-802-7516.

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