Know Your Cuber! Steven Brower of Brower Propulsion Lab!
We sat down recently with ArtCuber, Steven Brower, of Brower Propulsion Lab (BPL). Steven has over eighteen years of experience in designing and building instruments, objects, machines and systems. His facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has made everything from faux chocolate to space suit parts. His specialties include machining, rapid prototyping, CAD, plastic casting, thermoforming, special coatings, custom machinery and robotics, product design, prop and model making, theatrical, special event and museum displays, textile construction, special effects, electronic design and fabrication, sculpture fabrication, and work for aerospace applications. Wow!!!
A little about Steven
Steven Brower was Born in Washington DC. When he was seven, Star Wars came out and greatly inspired the love of space within him. He received his BFA in painting from Pratt Institute, and taught himself everything else over the years. He is married with a child and has been living in NY for 29 years.
What inspires you?
Bruegel paintings and tabulated documents.
What is the one tool you cannot live without?
Sandpaper- I can make anything with a piece of sandpaper the machines are just convenient. I could still make anything with a block of wood if I didn’t have electricity
How did you get started in this field?
Got a job in a model shop and then another, etc. I ended up in a place where there was a lot to learn and some really great and talented people to learn with.
What job would you do if you didn't have this job?
This isn't really a job. I haven't had a job since I worked cleaning ovens in West Virginia in 1987.
I’m too small to fail, I’ll do anything whatever comes up. Just trying to keep my little empire going. That’s why I do so many different things, I will make electronics, or gadgets but I can also make the thing it goes in, and I can also explain to the actor how to use it.
What has been your favorite project you worked on?
I was technical consultant on a feature called Europa Report. For some reason, that job turned out to be the origin of several of the best parts of my life and work.
Another project that holds impact is when I worked on trying to reproduce the spaceship that landed on the moon in the 60s. By making the piece by hand, I was trying to understand it and how it was all made. It’s now at a space museum and its hanging there as a stand-in for the actual work. When I was installing it there were some astronauts looking at it and one of them was the last guy to walk on the moon. He shook my hand and said “this is great.” If I sold this thing to the Museum of Modern Art and the director shook my hand and said “this is great”, would it be better than having the last guy to walk the moon say it? It is in a didactic situation at the museum, not an expressive situation as a piece of art. I’m certain its better at the space museum doing what it’s doing than at an art museum.
Have an ArtCube story you would like to share?
I designed a feature called Approaching the Unknown. We shot in the winter in Kerhonksen, NY in a former carpet warehouse. We were building spaceships. Obviously we had that desperate kind of budget. We suddenly had to build a space station we weren't planning on and checked The Cube for flats. It just happened that someone was getting rid of exactly what we needed- we were able to pick them up and get everything done on time and on budget. There was no other way it would have happened.
What have you gained from being a part of ArtCube?
I've certainly gotten work and I've also felt comfortable giving information out through the medium. I also have hired people from ArtCube. I've sent people to ArtCube to get things they need. ArtCube is one of the best resources we have available. Most industries protect and disguise valuable information but here it's all handed around freely. It's worth so much more than what it costs to be a member that I find myself wishing I had more information to put in!
Thanks Steve! Your work is inspiring and we are so happy to have you in ArtCube!