Opened on 8th March, Kendal College’s Icon exhibition presents work of Level 3 Extended Diploma Art and Design students inspired by a ‘modern icon’. The works emerged from research and development processes surrounding a figure that the students perceived as iconic, with the intention of translating the spirit of the subject’s life and work into a new piece. The word “icon” was interpreted in a number of ways, with artists producing works inspired by a wide and varied range of figures such as Kanye West, Lady Gaga and JK Rowling, enabling each artist to hone their individuality through their own interpretations and thus their varied use of medium.
!GWAK artist Flo Bull created pieces for the exhibition inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, supernova of the 1980s New York art scene, choosing the artist for his “unwavering creativity and determination”. Flo stated that an icon to her is someone that has “done something or been someone that made a difference/impact on someones life in a big way”. Basquiat, she argues, achieved this in the short eight years he was working professionally as an artist, producing over 1000 paintings and drawings respectively-this energy and its impact made him an icon.
“I was (and still am) also intrigued by his very interesting life story,” Flo explains. “His mother moved in to a home for people who were mentally ill when he was 13. He left home when he was a young teenager, living on the streets or sleeping at his friends houses, he then began to create graffiti with his friend Al Diaz under the name SAMO (short for 'same old shit') on the streets of Manhattan. He then began to paint, in around 1980, skyrocketing to fame and wealth. He struggled with the trials that came with this. He was quite insecure and paranoid about being used for his money and status, and also experienced racism/prejudice within and outside of the art world. He became a heroin addict towards the end of his life and then passed away from an overdose when he was only 27.” Through her work, Flo explains, she seeked to “discover who he really was and what he was like”, translating this passion into her work and research.
The exhibition is open to the public at Wildman Street Gallery until 28th March.
PROUDLY + WHOLEHEARTEDLY WRITTEN BY FELLOW
!GWAK MEMBER MILLIE NORMAN:
@twnipeaks / @giantpeachjournal on Instagram