Steven Montinar: Slime Language




Steven Montinar has a presence that commands a room - even when that room is a video chat space.  Quick to smile and with an easy confidence, the rising senior art major promotes himself and his work in an decidedly likeable way.


Jen Deluna and I got the chance to speak with Steven about his most recent project Slime Language this past Monday during an hour long video-call. Throughout the conversation, Steven threaded together perspectives about artmaking, race and inspiration. It’s not hard to understand why this artist has powerhouse potential.


This past year Montinar showed work in two exhibitions outside of Carnegie Mellon and the School of Art. In October of 2019, he exhibited his work Ropa Dope in the Late Space Gallery in Pittsburgh with collaborator and partner, Karla Arrucha. Then in March of 2020, his piece I Am A Prism of Obsidian was included in Channel, an exhibition on view in MuseumLab at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.


Since moving back home to West Virginia, Steven has stayed busy making work and finding new ways to engage with his audience. One of his recent works and the subject of our conversation, Slime Language investigates coded language and gestures through rap and hip hop lyrics.


The series contains 30 short video vignettes. Each video starts with a different lyric followed by a short gesture performed by Montinar. “I've learned that this is really just performance. It was capturing this performance that could be read as a language. The whole purpose of slime language is to create an idiom,” Montinar stated.

Working from his bedroom in the basement of his family’s home, Steven reconsidered how to make artwork that can withstand the test of these times. Considering the resources currently available to him, Montinar said, “In a year, maybe a couple of months, I don’t want people to look back at my work and say, oh that was made during the pandemic where no one could move anywhere and you had to shoot everything in a very different way.” 


With this awareness, he filmed these videos in a corner of his room using a close crop to focus on each gesture he has created. Each video is presented specifically for instagram. Montinar shares a video each day, tagging the musical artist. He told us, “I wanted to make sure I was getting people involved because I’m not just purely trying to grow a platform. I want to connect with these people who influence me.” This has been successful; multiple artists have looked at his video or even reposted it.


As for his future, Montinar plans to “do everything”; however, he’s blunt about roadblocks. There is something to be said about his persistence and tenacity. “I want to do everything mainly because I feel like I can. By telling myself I can’t, I feel like I’m already selling myself short.”



To see the full Slime Language series and more of Steven Montinar’s work check out his website at https://montinarsteven.wixsite.com/portfolio or his instagram, @stevenmontinart.