Friendswood artist’s illuminated sculptures are intriguing and functional
Dr. Stephen Hunt sees art in everything.
“I say I practice the art of medicine,” he said. “When I was a kid, my mother saw I was already strong in math. She pushed me toward art so I would be more well-rounded. I think it worked.”
Hunt, whose father was a carpenter, became interested in working with wood at a young age.
“I learned a lot from watching him, and I liked picking up objects I found anywhere — old, discarded things you’d just walk past. You might think this is just another brick or some old piece of wood, but I would immediately envision what I would do with it.”
By day, Hunt is a critical care specialist at Kindred Hospital Bay Area in Pasadena, and medical director at Mint Physician Staffing. But even after a long shift, Hunt will pull his car over on the side of the road to pick up an interesting old piece of wood. Once he’s home in Friendswood, he’ll consult one of the countless notebooks filled with sculpture ideas he’s kept since he was a child, and then figure out what to do with it.
Hunt, owner of Bright Boy Lighting and Design, takes the work beyond sculpting.
“I thought what would make these old pieces more interesting and functional is to add light to them,” he said. “Who knows what this old piece of wood used to be? But when I wire it and add the light, you can see it illuminates the coarse grain — and now you can read a book by it. Now it’s really interesting and you’re not going to walk past it. Now this is a cool piece that will go on someone’s table, and it’s art, but what’s important to me is that it’s also functional.”
Hunt’s eclectic inventory includes an illuminated equine sculpture series — a nod to American Pharoah, winner of the Triple Crown. It also includes an illuminated cornet, and thick ropes with a light bulb dangling at the end, wires carefully wrapped within the rope so as to remain invisible.
“My pieces are mixed media — lights, plaster, wood, brick,” Hunt said. “Every piece is one-of-a-kind, and they’re all a challenge. When someone buys one of my pieces, I know they’re willing to appreciate something that not everyone would.”
Hunt likes finding old, obsolete construction objects, he said.
“The way they constructed buildings and bridges just isn’t the way they do it anymore,” he said. “A lot of my sculptures come from old objects no one uses anymore. You can’t see the wires. I drill holes and get them through really tight spaces to get them up and through the wood, or I unwrap rope and then re-wrap it to light the bulb. That’s a little bit of my surgical skill coming through there, but I think the pieces look more elegant and sophisticated when you can’t see the wires.”
Hunt never runs out of ideas for his art.
“Ideas pop into my head all the time,” he said. “I’m always looking for new materials. This is what makes life exciting.”