Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Week 4 - A Closer Look at Some Arts/Industry Artists

Today the interns at the JMKAC all got a chance to go on the Kohler Factory Tour. While I wasn't able to take pictures, the website gives some ideas of what happens during the tour. For the record, my favorite part was watching bathtubs get enameled by giant robots. Definitely a "must see" if you're ever in the area!

While the Kohler Factory and John Micheal Kohler Arts Center only share John Micheal Kohler as a benefactor, they come together to co-sponsor the Arts/Industry Artist in Residence Program (website and brochure). This program allows artists to come and work in the factory with unlimited access to the materials normally used to create toilets, sinks, and bathtubs. At the end of this residency, artists provide both the Kohler Company and the John Micheal Kohler Arts Center with one piece each from the body of work they've produced in their time at the factory. It is this collection that I've spent the majority of my time researching here at the Arts Center in preparation for the upcoming exhibition.

After 4 weeks of research on individual artists from the Arts/Industry program, I've really come to appreciate the opportunity this project has given working to get to know more contemporary artists. While I've taken many modern art history classes, it always seemed that the "modern era" stopped with 1970s and minimalism. Luckily for me, Arts/Industry picks up where those classes left off! This project has finally got me motivated and excited about learning about many contemporary and often regional artists. This week I decided to share a couple of my favorites. Hope you enjoy! (All the artists' names are hyperlinked to their sites for your reading pleasure.)

Ken Little

Ken was my first Arts/Industry crush. From the moment I saw his sculpture Slave (which I nicknamed "shoe bear," for it's distinctive construction of old cowboy boots) I was drawn to his work. His pieces are ladened with a clever pop-like wit and mixed with just the right amount of political stance. Homeland Security, Buck and Doe, and Yellow Puma are among my favorites.

Homeland Security
white picket fence 
approx 100 feet W
commissioned by the Griffnerhaus, Griffner Austria for the XYZ2 International Artists Symposium 
Via Artist's Website

Buck and Doe
sewn dollar bills
in collaboration with the Fabric Workshop - Philidelphia, Pennsylvania
Via Artist's Website

Yellow Puma
Via Artist's Website

Melissa McGill
I love Melissa McGill's and eerie looking pieces. In form, they take on a graceful curving quality- they almost float between abstraction and figuration, reality and the paranormal. Yet their material composition of glazed vitreous china firmly grounds them in the physical realm. In reality, these pieces are cast from the insides of figurines, creating a wonderful contradiction that challenges both the concept of "figure" and recognition of forms.

Untitled, 2004
30 x 9 x 9 inches
Edition of 11
Via Artists Website

Untitled, 2002
65 x 24 x 24 in. approx.
Via Artists Website

Marten Medbo

Opposite the fleeting nostalgic recognition I get from McGill's sculptures is the shock of hyper-realistic forms from Medbo's ceramic pieces. His pieces carry such strong emotional, and often times disturbing messages, yet look so sweet and cuddly that I can't help but be drawn to them.. I love the flocked surface on Schoolyard Monkeys and Creatures, and the creepy lifelike quality of Lost.

Lost 2005
Cast and assembled stoneware
It is a part of the exhibition 'Voices'
Via Artists Website 

Creatures 2008
Cast and altered stoneware
Via Artists Website

Schoolyard Monkeys 2010
Cast and altered stoneware
Via Artists Website

Sue Johnson

A bit like Medbo's work, Sue Johnson's work is adorable with just a dash of horrifying. Mr. Potatohead served up on a dinner plate and a tiny deer in a forest of Jello dessert beg the question, "Why eat something so cute?" Yet names like Jello Surprise with Venison certainly bring this issue to the forefront of these kitchsy-cute ceramic sculptures

Turtle Soup
Via Artist Website
(For all the Beloiters!)

Jello Surprise with Venison
Via Artist Website

Steak and Mr. Potato Head
Via Artist Website

Until next time!


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