Professor’s Office: Steve Halla

A statue of a Jawa from Star Wars sits on one of Steve Halla's sheles beside a recreation of a painting he received while traveling.

Steve Halla, assistant professor of art, fills the entire classroom with vibrant energy as he teaches. His passion for art clearly comes through as soon as you step into his office.

Hanging on his walls are pictures of Venice, an elegant and empty picture frame that he has yet to fill, and images of his various woodcuts. More woodcut prints are stacked inside a box on the floor.

A portrait in a block of wood which was carved by Steve Halla and covered with ink.
A portrait in a block of wood which was carved by Steve Halla and covered with ink.

Halla said that he started wood cutting in 1999 and started with 3D carving before switching to the traditional wood cutting he does today. One of the works he displays is a meticulously and beautifully crafted portrait of an elderly person’s face made using only a hammer and a nail.

“I hate hanging things on the wall,” Halla said. “It’s almost as though I wish I had, visually, a blank slate. Give me a text. Let me read it. Let my imagination start going.”

His daughters finally convinced him to hang up a few things after seven years when they said that his office was boring. Halla said that he’s more inspired by what he reads than by what he looks at.

“I usually read at least 5 to 8 books at a time, all the time,” Halla said. “I will usually start a variety of books and read a little bit at a time in all of them, and once I finish one, I add another to the pile.”

The walls directly in front and behind him were filled to the brim with books on topics lie art, theology and even wildcard topics like a book on skulls. Many of the books are on weighty topics, and Halla said he likes to learn from them and explore new topics. Some of his books, however, he just reads for fun.

“I like to read Star Wars graphic novels,” Halla said. “Of all the things I read, that would probably be the one element that is pure escapism.”

Halla said that Star Wars was the first movie he saw in theaters and that it inspired his imagination as a child. Sitting next to the door on a shelf is a statue of a Jawa from the original Star Wars movie, along with several other Star Wars figures of varying vintages scattered about the room.

Image courtesy of Randall Kendrick|Cardinal & Cream