Mike Stasny has established his place in Atlanta's art scene as a sculptor of epic monsters. Using largely recycled materials, Stasny communicates a vision drawn from growing up around his grandfather's taxidermy and dioramas. After leaving his job as a flight attendant two years ago, Stasny has volunteered at WondeRoot, done a residency with Dashboard Co-op, and made a notable impression at the 2012 Scoutmob Halloween party at the Goat Farm with his "Know Monster."
His current show A BETA: Everything That Would Break, I Baroque at 9 Ace Gallery exhibits two large wood sculptures that will later be broken down into what he calls "artifacts." Stasny talked with CL about his new show, his initiation into Atlanta's art scene, and being a bit sentimental about his sculptures.
Tell me about how you prepared for your show A BETA: Everything That Would Break, I Baroque and the idea behind it.
A BETA: Everything That Would Break, I Baroque is a test version of a project I was commissioned to do for WonderRoot's CSA. This project will be finished in Spring/Summer 2014. Basically, I will "artifact" a large sculpture that is built to be destroyed. Upon its demolition, the broken pieces will be collected and installed on panels that include information on the process and the specific location of where the "artifact" came from on the sculpture. The panels that the two creatures sit in front of will be the final resting place for more interesting sections of the debris. At some point, I would like to display all these artifacts and which sculptures they came from. Currently, the "Know Monster" artifacts are on display on the same floor as the new Creative Loafing building.
The monster sculptures are a big part of your shows and part terrifying/part awesome. How did this originate?
My grandfather was a taxidermist, I grew up playing with the objects from his basement like skulls, half-finished animals, glass eyes, and deer hoofs. The thing that is really exciting about taxidermy is just how weird the bodies are reconstructed. Junk paper, wire, wood, marbles, and other material are used to recreate an animal. A taxidermy form is basically just the skin; the rest is a creative use of weird materials/chemicals. This history, coupled with an interest in natural history museum dioramas and a love for science fiction conflate to create my style.
What do you do with these giants after the shows are over?
I realized early on that the work I make is not easy to keep around. In some special cases the people that own the property trade me studio/storage space to keep me as their resident artist. This means the sculptures live on. In most cases, the work is busted apart and is recycled into other projects. Since "Know Monster," I have played with "artifacting" the sculptures into manageable panels that exist as a type of romantic keepsake, albeit sentimental, of something that existed for a short time, was incredibly labor intensive to create, and then torn apart.
How did your experience over at Dashboard Co-op and Boom City shape you as an artist?
For me, becoming a Dashboard artist served as an initiation into the Atlanta art scene and Boom City was a type of bar mitzvah. Beth and Courtney offer you forums to shape yourself and really treat you as an equal. Although they are fully legit these days and I see them as only becoming more important, they operate in the best of ways, they are my friends doing me a solid and I am more than happy to help them with whatever insane projects they have planned for the future.
In the near future, George Long and I have an insane show celebrating our friends at Kibbee Gallery via the use of lots of pink called I FUCKING L*** YOU on Feb 1. Maggie Ginestra and I are curating a month-long residency at MINT gallery called SUMPTUARY where we explore how alcohol sales can fund as many artists as possible.
A BETA: Everything That Would Break, I Baroque, a solo exhibition of work by Mike Stasny, opened at the 9 Ace Gallery on Jan. 10. More details at the gallery.
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