How much Crisco can you get for $45,712?
Roughly 3,000 pounds of the stuff—that and butter, wax, Vaseline, paraffin, and other meltable ingredients that are both the essence and detritus of the artwork of KeseyPollock.
Back in October local artists Steph Kesey and Erin Pollock—a pair of petite, freckled 31-year-olds who’ve been a visual art duo for the past five years—launched a monthlong Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a new project. The goal: to carve lifelike human bodies out of wax, then melt the sculptures and photograph/video the dissolving bodies as they turned into colorful abstractions. They asked for $31,000 for the labor- and material-intensive project; they received $45,712. It was one of the highest funded visual art projects on Kickstarter—ever—with money coming from 340 donors around the globe, Alaska to Australia.
For the next seven months Kesey and Pollock put in 80-hour weeks to make good on the Kickstarter promise. Every dime went to materials: wax, propane, steel, a camera setup. Lots of Crisco. They borrowed tools and asked friends to sit (very still) as the artists made wax casts of their bodies. “We were just learning,” said Kesey, “and you can’t start on anybody but your friends.” As the bodies took shape, Kesey and Pollock started to give them names, personas. One artist would photograph a scene involving, say, street thug "Wade Cox," while the other would hold the body from behind in the photo. An extra set of hands might appear in an embrace, adding a subtle element of the fantastic to an otherwise incredibly realistic image.
When the photos were done, the ladies would stuff the wax bodies with pigment and the aforementioned butter/Crisco/Vaseline combo, turn on the torches and start the process of destruction. "When most sculptors' processes end, ours sort of begins," Kesey says in the American Hipster video below. Kesey and Pollock claim to be low tech, but their approach to their work is as meticulous as a chemist's, and they capture each well-planned stage of work through sketches, photographs, paintings, film, even hand-drawn topographic maps of the bodies. It's fascinating, striking art—and it's all on display in the Evo studio space in Belltown through the end of next week.
Kesey and Pollock had a big blowout opening to their show in June with 1,000 people in attendance, but the party might not last unless people start spending. Despite an overwhelmingly supportive Seattle community, less than 20 percent of KeseyPollock's art went to local buyers. These creative ladies have been told—by their peers—to move to New York. "We really want to stay!" Pollock told me yesterday, but it might not make sense financially. They said the same to CityArts in a recent article about Seattle's "marginal art market" and the new kind of starving artist.Don't let KeseyPollock get away without taking a moment to check out their work. Otherwise, it'll be one of the biggest Kickstarter art projects Seattle has never known.
KeseyPollock at the Belltown Collective
Thru July 14, Mon–Fri 4–8, Sat & Sun 2–8
Following week by appointment only