Stewart is a mixed-media studio and public artist whose work ranges from paper arts and three-dimensional assemblages to sculptural ceramics and large-scale installations. His work is influenced by his curiosity of the built and natural environment and the structure and mechanics of those environments. The work he produces is reflective of his knowledge and experience composing a variety of materials into a single product or an installation - adding layers of purpose, meaning and intrigue.
"When I create or design something, I find the project's concept will dictate what my material composition will be."
Stewart received his BFA in Design from Cornish College in Seattle. He is a ceramics instructor in an after-school program formerly at Island Park Elementary on Mercer Island. He has completed residencies at Island Park Elementary and at the Wing Luke Museum's summer YouthCan program. His public art installations include an Asian-American monument at Bernalillo County Courthouse in Albuquerque, the Sammamish Park and Ride for King County Metro and the Wing Luke Museum's Community Hall.
Stewart was born in the Territory of Hawaii to 2nd and 3rd generation parents. His grandparents arrived in Hawaii before statehood during the Exclusion Act period and the Big 5’s (a major political and economic power in early Hawaii) influence on Hawaii’s government and economy. His grandparents, immigrating to Hawaii, were seeking their own Gold Mountain, but their future in the Islands depended on government decisions when Hawaii was still a territory manipulated by the Big 5. His great grand uncle was one of the Big 5’s contracted sugar plantation laborers, and his grandfather was a vegetable peddler who eventually opened a restaurant in Honolulu to provide for the Chinese community.
Relocating to the mainland, he saw that subversion to the dominate culture and inequality were not isolated to Hawaii but were apparent throughout the mainland as well. Through involvement with the Wing Luke Museum, he gained a new perspective of the struggles and adversity faced by Asian laborers, scholars, and businesspersons historically and today. He learned of racially bias laws and contemporary issues often institutionalized in the evolving rule of law.
As a mentor artist, Stewart shared his experience with young people when he led the Wing Luke YouthCan group through creation of conceptual public art proposals that interpret an invisible history of Chinese tenant farmers of Ebey’s Landing.
Stewart’s public art also serves to promote awareness of issues of Asians and other minority groups in America and their stories:
- Stewart’s Wing Luke installation (originally in partnership with Ron Ho) illustrates the transition people experience immigrating to a new world.
- Sammamish P&R relies on Native American basketry to convey the harmonious relationship the indigenous people had with the land.
- His sculpture at the Bernalillo County Courthouse in Albuquerque (in partnership with Cheryll Leo-Gwin) is dedicated to the efforts of Asian Americans in procuring equitable treatment under the rule of law.
He is a member of Northwest Designer Craftsman and a former Resident Artist at Seward Park Clay Studio.