Portrait photo of Steph Mantis, a VAST artist creating ultra-high-resolution microscopy photographs.

Steph Mantis

Brooklyn, New York
Steph Mantis is an American artist living and working in New York City. Her current body of work takes macro photography to new depths by utilizing a microscope to explore the physicality of objects we love.

The microscope provides Mantis a physical metaphor and entry point for meditation. Through deep and steady observation of an external subject, a parallel internal experience unfolds. “In making images externally, it seems to make space internally: sitting with a subject allows me to sit with myself in equal part.”

In order to see the whole picture, Mantis has to move through the entirety of the subject, pulling into focus whatever material lies within the focal plane. It is a constant practice of observation and letting go. Then, through hours of technically challenging work, she is able to share that experience through finished imagery. The result is an up-close and personal illumination of an unexpected and primordial sense.

Through this abstraction and reframing of the familiar, Mantis encourages the viewer to question their expectations and associations with the subject as well as their interpretations. Her art coaxes you into a deeper consideration of what is present but unseen, transforming the intangible into a conversation and experience you can return to.

Outside of her work with VAST Photos, Steph has licensed numerous products, most notably “animal butt magnets” her “pizza night light.” Her “Forever Pizza” project featuring a real slice of pizza preserved in lucite (forever) found massive success on the internet. Beyond the success of the limited edition sales, “Forever Pizza” has led to opportunities ranging from teaching in the design and entrepreneurship programs at The New School to designing and installing the exhibition for the World’s Largest Pizza Box Collection in various cities throughout the US and Europe. Her product work can be found at the MoMA store and with various retailers across the globe. In 2012, Steph was named one of Pratt’s “40 Under 40” graduates to watch as the institution celebrated 125 years of excellence in art and design education.