The international art competition, ArtPrize began yesterday, September 24 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and goes through October 12, 2014. The competition for over half a million dollars in cash prizes brought over 1,500 works of art from artists from around the world. The artists are vying for the votes of the attendees as $280,000.00 is awarded by registered voters. The remainder of the prizes are awarded by a jury of art experts.
With the opening of the voting many of the artists were on hand to shmooze with the public and chat about their works of art. One of the favorite ArtPrize venues, The B.O.B. (Big Old Building) was swarming with activity with artisans and art lovers as well as those who were hungry, thirsty, or there for the music.
JFK’s OBSESSIONS: Sensing the 5th, made quite a stir with the patrons of The B.O.B.
JFK is short for Jon F. Kay, an Indianapolis artist and Hope College graduate. His creation, OBSESSIONS: Sensing the 5th, is a “3D collage on sculpture” but that description doesn’t do justice to the work. The composition is formed of four sculptures of the female form as the canvases for the collages. Each sculpture features a collage that is specific to one of four senses and its sensory organ. From left to right, are the Eyes/sight, the Mouth/taste, the Ears/hearing, and the Nose/smell.
While the others are on their knees, sitting, or crouching, the sculpture/collage representing eyes/sight stands rigidly on a pane of glass to the left of the display, the position of dominance in our western, left to right reading culture. She is the only sculpture in the composition where the face is smooth, with no sculpted eyes, nose, ears, or mouth. While the others faces are turned towards her, she gazes in the distance beyond them with the indifference of an ancient oracle.
She who represents Taste, the collage of mouths, kneels gazing down yet not in full subservience to sight. In contrast to the other ladies, her breasts are more voluptuous and nurturing with more fully formed nipples suggesting a maternal sensuality.
Hearing appears to be a lazy listener, not gazing at the face of Sight, but rather seems distractedly looking lower. Meanwhile the olfactory avatar keeps her distance and appears in a hyper vigilent crouch, aroused and ready to react to the first scent of danger. Beneath her is a mirror reflecting her perilously poised posterior.
The artist, Jon F. Kay, is a sweet, humble man who looks a mix between Marvel’s super heroe, Wolverine and The Muppets Beaker. Prior to interviewing Jon he seemed perplexed by the question, “What will you do if you win?” as though it was the first time the thought had crossed his mind. He finally responded that he really hadn’t been looking to win but rather to find his audience during ArtPrize.
After the interview he continued chatting with the many viewers and it was fascinating to listen to them speculate on the composition. Why “Sensing the 5th” when there were only four statues? What was the significance of their differing physical characteristics? Postures? The foci of their gazes? Why was Sight on glass, Smell on the mirror and the others without anything additional beyond the pedestals? What is the significance of the titles? Jon smiled at the questions and engaged them with continued speculations but left them in the dark to his hearts intentions in its creation. He did mention that each statue as an additional title and they all begin with the letter “S.”
Perhaps one of the more surprising responses Jon gave during the course of the evening was in how long the project took him from start to finish. He said it took his entire life since there wasn’t a moment in his life that he could edit out and still have come up with this beautiful work of art. This is, perhaps, one of the underlying qualities that makes this piece so intriguing. On the one hand, in form and figure it is beautiful in its simplicity. On the other hand, as you look closely, it is literally tens of thousands of independent, yet interwoven pieces layered with a painstaking precision. Even with so many other great works at ArtPrize, this piece continues to evoke questions. How did the artist get such smooth collage from such irregular shapes? Where did he start? What inspired the patterning of the various shapes and colors?
Is OBSESSIONS: Sensing the 5th worth your ArtPrize vote? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is definitely worth checking out!
Check out the interview and stop by The B.O.B. to see this and many other works of art in and outside The B.O.B.