[the citation continues…]
Shortly after the publication of The Eastern Shore, Szabo embarked on yet another career. He was invited to join the teaching staff at the Corcoran School of Art. It is here at the Corcoran that Steve has had his greatest influence upon young Washington artists. An inspiration to his students and a respected member of the Corcoran faculty, Steve has used his photographic talents wisely and well as teacher, mentor and artist in residence. Along with his teaching responsibilities, Steve has continued with his career in photography. His photographs in Washington, France, and New England once again reveal and reaffirm his keen eye of social nuance and appreciation of the camera’s formal values.
In 1992 Steve Szabo learned that he had contracted multiple sclerosis. Before his illness caused a halt to the work, he was involved in documenting worn cowboy boots upended on fence posts spread across the Great Plains in Nebraska. True to himself and to his art, these beautifully crafted and thoughtful works again depict the effect the land has upon its inhabitants. Here, again, Szabo’s notes and anecdotes serve as a poignant corollary to the body of work. It is photography which is at once document, history and art.
Steve has continued to photograph, courageously persevering despite the limitations imposed upon him by his disease. He has begun an extensive portrait series in color, most recently adding the portraits of his many visitors…friends, admirers, well wishers…to his home in Northwest Washington.
It is an honor and a privilege to honor Steve Szabo for his outstanding contributions to photography and for his dedication and commitment to the Corcoran School of Art.
Although I hate to end this post on a sad note, I’d like to wrap up by recounting a story Kathy tells about Steve’s time in Nebraska. As she tells it, while he was photographing the “Icons of the Great Plains” series he went to a liquor store one night to buy a bottle of something. The store owner said something along the lines of “I’ve think you’ve had enough already.” While no one who knew Steve would find it surprising that he might have been having a night of hard drinking, in this case the store owner was mistaken and Steve was sober. In fact, whatever incoordination or clumsiness the owner noticed was in fact the first sign of Steve’s illness. The following year, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
I choose this anecdote in hopes that placing it here, in the middle of my ongoing narrative, underscores the triumphs of Steve’s life rather than its tragic end. As the citation notes, and as you can see above, not even confinement to a hospital bed could stop his creative mind. His friends saw to it that his artistic life continued unabated. Whether posing as models or volunteering to develop his film and print his pictures (which he had previously always done himself) they made sure that Steve the photographer lived on as long as his energy could sustain his artwork.