Steyven Curry, a writer and artist who creates under the name Nevyets, is constantly surveying his surroundings. Even during a recent interview alongside poet and editor Mike Wright at Upper Cup in Olde Towne East, Nevyets’ eyes remained alert. He scanned the door as customers entered and exited and exchanged brief pleasantries with fellow creatives who passed through the space.
“It’s something where I can’t turn it off,” said Nevyets, whose work is continually influenced by these stray observations, including a recent exhibit at Skylab that featured blown-up images the artist pulled from a package of sanitizing wipes and which he conceived as a pointed critique of the language commonly used by right-wing politicians and media figures to describe immigrants – not humans in search of sanctuary but a scourge to be cleansed. “That’s why I’ll sit outside Buckeye Donuts for so long, smoking cigarettes and being still. … I’m comfortable with the process. I get things out that way.”
Nevyets said the relentless nature of this intake – an ongoing absorption and release as natural to him as breathing – also means that he is continually digging deeper into himself, describing the creative process as one of constant self-discovery. “I see myself multiplied,” he said. “I’m always learning about myself. After the fact, it’s always, ‘That’s what I was doing the whole time?’ I work and I finish so I can see it. It’s not a hobby. It’s more like magic. I do it because it informs me, and it trains my consciousness.”
The closer Nevyets gets to this core, the more he said he appreciates rawness and vulnerability – not only in his art, but in the comics, books, exhibitions and music he consumes. Several times in our conversation, he offers some version of the phrase “give me something real,” hinting at the larger idea that helped spawn a second edition of Superspreader (), a pandemic-era magazine spearheaded by Nevyets and a handful of collaborators and first released in 2021.
“Everything can be so surface level, and I want something with depth. … I’ve talked to others [about the art submitted for the magazine], and they’re like, ‘I’m not quite sure how to put this out in public. I don’t know how it will be perceived, but I’m kind of wrestling with something,’” said Nevyets, who will join a host of collaborators for a Superspreader 2 release party . (Bryan Moss, CM Campbell and Taylor Chiu produced the magazine alongside Wright and Nevyets, in addition to contributing art to the package.) “And you need to be able to get that out, like a diary, or a [talk with a] close friend or confidant, and you need to be able to do it without being judged or attacked. … It’s a chance for people to hang out and show the work they want to show. Not something commissioned. Not something they have to do. And there was no resistance, no people asking, ‘Hey, what is this project about?’ They clearly chose something they wouldn’t have done otherwise. And I know this because a lot of artists told me, like, ‘I want to do this for fun. I want a break from my standard operating procedure.’ … It’s play. I like to play.”
This sense of freedom carries throughout Superspreader, which careens from poems to comics to collages to essays – the contributions generally united more by spirit than by form. There are, however, plenty of moments where unintended connections spark, such as the turn where an essay on active imagination gives way to “Frankendamned,” a surrealist cartoon by Okell Lee that dissolves into an inventive blur of color. Elsewhere, Raeghan Buchanan illustrates a speech given by a character in “Boyz n the Hood,” Sean Karns unpacks the concept of romance in the poem “Journal Entry (7/26/23, 4:30 a.m.)” and Nevyets turns out graffiti-inspired artwork that calls to mind a city wall layered with decades of paint.
The interplay between mediums can also impact the artists in unexpected ways. Wright said that his work as an editor on the comic books written by Nevyets and others has informed the way he uses language in his own work, particularly when he’s writing with what he described as “a more walk and talk, New York School, Frank O’Hara” voice that falls in line with the type of dialogue typically seen in comics.
“The language in comics has helped me when I’m trying to use a voice of that kind, because characters are often cut off. They’re saying something and it’s clipped. They’re finishing a thought. They’re reacting to something,” Wright said. “I’ve had a lot of beneficial conversations as a result of things with the magazine, whether it’s photography, collage, whatever, where I’m looking at the ways artists approach things and finding ways it might apply to things I’ve already written, or the way I’m approaching something I’m getting ready to write.”
For Nevyets, the magazine is yet another extension of his voracious appetite for art of all mediums, and by extension fuel for his own practice. “I’m a kinetic worker. I’m always seeing, always taking in. I get itchy if I can’t go out – not to partake but just to experience,” he said. “And with Superspreader I get to see the hand and the eye of the other artists. I get to see what they’re experiencing.”