Local artist Kyle Downs found inspiration for his multidimensional pieces in parking lots, gyms and quarries.
Columbus’ ROY G BIV nonprofit gallery for emerging artists will feature an exhibition displaying Downs’ sculptural work beginning on Saturday.
The New Brunswick, Maine, native earned a Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State in 2016 and was an adjunct professor in the Department of Art.
Downs said his choice of medium, whether it’s wood, metal, performance or video, is determined through investigating the subject matter of the project. His most recent piece deals with the removal of streets and parking lots and employs asphalt as its medium.
Downs said he was inspired to explore parking lots after spending time in areas affected by the mining industry. He said his work was inspired by the gravel industry and labor force, while exploring the line work in parking spots and the sides of roads.
“I kind of took the idea of these boundaries and abstracted them and cut them and brought them back into the studio to see what happens when a material that’s exclusively used outside kind of comes inside,” Downs said.
Along with the parking lot piece, Downs’ exhibition at ROY G BIV will feature two other pieces centered on the sport of gymnastics and gymnasts’ form.
Downs prepared for the creation of these pieces by attending OSU gymnastics meets and having conversations with the athletes. In this case, Downs chose to appropriate the gymnastics pommel horse and create a sculpture that features a nearly specification-sized piece of equipment sitting in a Radio Flyer wagon. He said he wanted to play with the dualism of the pommel horse and incorporate symbols such as the gymnastic form of the iron cross.
“It’s kind of like this weird play on role reversals and identities, which is kind of strange because the pommel horse is not a real horse but the history of it was designed for cavalry for troops to learn how to ride and mount horses,” Downs said. “I wanted there to be more play and a more fictional relationship between these two fetishized objects.”
Haley Kedziora, director of ROY G BIV gallery, said in an email statement that Downs’ work was selected for exhibition through a blind jury process that excludes the names and resumes of artists who have submitted their work for consideration.
Kedziora said ROY G BIV jurors are not required to provide justification for their selections, but they most likely showed interest in Downs’ contrast to traditional art, such as representational painting and sculpture.
“Often (Downs’) choice of medium is a vehicle for the specific idea he is exploring,” Kedziora said. “To me, that aspect of his practice alone is innovative, as it results in a wide-ranging body of work that spans across disciplines.”
Although Downs addresses different subjects and employs conflicting strategies between each piece, he said their interaction is representative of his artistic style.
“There is some kind of resistance I have built up in my history as an artist that is opposed to the idea of branding a singular voice,” Downs said.
Downs said it is difficult to anticipate viewers’ experiences of the exhibition when considering the break in continuity of his work. However, he said he hopes an appreciation of craftsmanship influences a variety of interpretations.
“I think there’s some good collisions happening with these projects that might confuse people,” he said. “That can be good in some cases where it’s not so specific what I’m telling you through the forms I’ve built or exactly what the project is.”
ROY G BIV Gallery’s exhibition of Downs’ work, accompanied by that of Ellen Xu, will open Saturday at 7 p.m. The artists will offer their closing remarks on February 25.