'What's Up South Texas!': Diorama artist inspires others to cherish memories of SA history

Art teacher makes scale models of iconic San Antonio spots

SAN ANTONIO – It took Northside ISD art teacher Steven Cromwell a long time to figure out art was his calling. That calling has transformed from 2D drawings to 3D miniature dioramas representing San Antonio’s history. 

“The man upstairs is pulling strings for me as I see it,” Cromwell said. “Life has continued to show me that you are where you were meant to be right now. Life is going the direction you were meant to go.”

He said art was hard to accept for him starting off, but he eventually let reality happen. 

“Once I realized that and stopped being stubborn, the creative floodgates in essence just opened up and that is where it has allowed me the opportunity to share not just my history but San Antonio history and reinvent the storytelling process for the purpose that I am trying to do it,” Cromwell said. 

He said he looks at this chapter of his life and his successes as a way of paying back the people who helped guide him. 

“My teachers, family members, and friends who are now family,” Cromwell said. “I look back now and continue to see signs of it.” 

Cromwell did face a major obstacle growing up finding who he was. 

“For me, growing up, my parents were divorced,” Cromwell said. “I lived with my grandparents and uncles on a ranch. A lot of my influence came from them. I had to learn a lot through my whole family.” 

He said the lessons he learned helped him in the long run. 

“In the end, if we can weather the storm, and learn from our mistakes and successes and just continue moving forward, it can really turn into something that you never expect it to,” Cromwell said. “If nothing comes from this, I can say I had a lot of fun this summer.” 

Cromwell has always been fascinated with scale models since he was a child, going to scale model shows with his father.

Since then, he has crafted many monumental things in San Antonio’s history like Skateland, murals, and an old school Whataburger that has gone viral. 

“I hope I can tell other family stories, not just of mine, but other families’ so that when they see these different pieces, it will bring back memories of how they remembered certain places,” Cromwell said. 

He now teaches art to young kids, inspiring them to also find their passion. 

“Getting to help kids and adults and teens that are interested in art and getting them over those obstacles is truly inspiring,” Cromwell said. “For me, the teachers in my childhood was inspirational and all of that came back into my adulthood and manifested.” 

Cromwell hopes his passion to retell the history of the city he loves inspires others to cherish their memories they have growing up and in life in general. 

If you know someone like Cromwell who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.

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