Local artist’s work can be found in private collections all over the world

Whether he is authoring and illustrating books, painting, sculpting or making masks, Stephen Porter’s passion is to create. His artwork can be found in private collections all over the world, including France, Spain, and from California to Connecticut.

Well-known for his murals at ArtBreak and for the community mural on Texas Avenue, Porter is an active local artist and teacher for the Bossier Talented Arts Program.

“Birds, open doors, windows and stairs, animals, clowns and faces, their expressions litter my canvas like a modern-day Guernica,” says Porter, who enjoys the challenge of working on a larger scale – with two of his most notable artworks measuring 25’x5’ and 9’x12.’

“My thoughts, my experiences, each stroke of my brush is influenced by my life and what I have seen or thought I saw, what I heard or though I heard.”

Porter (class of 1973) is one of six individuals – five alumni and one faculty member — who will be inducted into the C.E. Byrd 2022 Hall of Fame. The other inductees include Jericho Brown (class of 1994), a Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry; Merrilee Streun Leatherman (class of 1960), an acclaimed journalist and community leader; William Peatross (class of 1961), a successful attorney and community leader; Cynthia Peterson (class of 1975), a published biochemist and LSU professor; and former faculty member Roy Thomas.

Every two years, the C.E. Byrd Alumni Association honors former students and faculty members who illustrate great success in their careers, communities, and made an impact during their time at C.E. Byrd High School. This year’s Hall of Fame Banquet will be held tonight, with the cocktail hour starting at 6:00 p.m. and the ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. at East Ridge Country Club.

Why was it important to you to stay in Shreveport and promote local and area artists? 

I stayed in Shreveport because of family and work. I continue to create my Art here and encourage others to do so as well. There is an incredible amount of talent in this area, and I feel it is very important to promote that talent.

Why do you enjoy the challenge of creating murals? 

I have created quite a few murals; unfortunately, they are no longer around. The two on Texas Ave. were 88’ and 60’ long and were installed to run 148’; those were a challenge as were the ones I created for children at ArtBreak. I started with a brush and paint and whatever came to mind I would paint. The 88’ and 60’ took many hours. I have since focused on my canvas pieces, which themselves are quite large — for example 8’x9’, 9’x12’ and 25’x5’ — especially the 25’x5’ and 9’x12’ due to their size and basically having to paint only small areas at a time. 

How did Byrd High School help prepare you for your artistic success? 

While I was attending Byrd, I created a piece for downtown. It was a 4’x4’ painting on plywood and was used along with other students’ work to protect people during construction. I think I got 2nd place. Years later, November 1987, I was commissioned by the class of 1987 to do the Yellow Jacket and mascots of the schools Byrd played for the gymnasium. This was quite a challenge and took a while. When completed, The (Shreveport) Times sent a reporter that took photos and wrote a story. Unfortunately, around the same time a tornado hit on the 16th and the story never ran. I also made a huge wreath made out of large vines I collected from the woods for the front of the school and a large custom painted Christmas card. I was quoted as saying “They (the murals) should be there as long as the building stands.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case either.

What are some of your fondest memories from Byrd? 

Riding my motorcycle, hanging out and — I think — the school itself. It’s a beautiful building and, of course, we would go all over from above the ceiling in the auditorium to the catacombs in the basement. These, of course, were not “authorized tours.”

How did you feel when you were told of your induction into the Hall of Fame?

I was surprised and appreciative, but most of all humbled.

What is your all-time favorite movie? Favorite book?

Sergeant York. As far as books, it would be the Bible.

What do you like to do to relax?

Spending time with my family and my grandchildren. If given the opportunity, to fish. I recently sold my Harley — at times that was enjoyable to go for a ride.

For more information, visit byrdhighalumni.org/hall-of-fame or the C.E. Byrd Alumni Association’s Facebook page. Tickets are available to the public and can be purchased via the website or by calling the school directly.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com