Helen Steele was born in a small town in the southern mountainous region of Germany. She spent her youth exploring nature with a sketchbook on hand. In high school, she participated in an exchange program in France, which opened her eyes to the wider world. Helen studied art education at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. She received her master’s degree in 1986. She immigrated to America in 1987, first moving to Los Angeles before settling in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she raised her children and started her art career.
She was trained in artistic techniques, which include painting, printmaking, encaustic, ceramics, and fiber arts. Her work is an exploration into the human soul, a witnessing of the human spirit. Her approach was intuitive, suggestive rather than detailing.
Helen was the recipient of multiple awards and grants, including the Denis Diderot A-i-R art residency grant at Chateau d’Orquevaux in France, an art residency at Green Olive Arts in Tetouan Morocco, and the Wendy Gruber Grant in Marin, CA. Also, her work has been published in American Art Collector Magazine and was featured on Marin Magazine’s front cover. Her work is shown by several galleries in the United States and abroad and can be found in many private collections.
My compositions are never preconceived, yet my themes are recurrent: The use of the figure as the means of investigating various psychological states: harmony, serenity, anxiety, isolation… As I work and rework my canvas, the image appears, sometimes only to elude me then to reassert itself much later. I work in multiple layers with buried images and words. Paint is wiped off, and layers are peeled, yielding the emerging image. Symbolic markings, personal imagery, shapes, and words appear, questions arise. Intimacy is translated through the sensuality of line, the simplest and subtlest of my tools. The line can be bold and assertive or sublime and quite sensual, converging dimensions, movement, and emotion. The connecting thread is the tension between what is active and passive, be it physical, emotional, or psychological.
“My mom loved art not because of what people created. She loved the natural beauty of the world. She’d gaze for hours at the pebbles on a beach. She’d take photos of gray trees in the marsh. Art is an imitation of the moments of life. And she always had her eye out for the moments.” – Jeremy Steel