Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to Birth a Chicken

The next question I get after the "how" is the "why" when my entry into Art of Can comes up in conversation. "Why a chicken?" I know whoever is asking is also curious as to 'why a bound and gagged chicken', but perhaps they are frightened to hear that reply so most start with "Why a chicken?" I was contacted about Art of Can quite late in the game. When I found out about the contest I only had four weeks from start to finish to meet the June 25th deadline. So I went with my first idea and didn't over analyze it mainly since I didn't have time.

I had just been to a farm with my kids. And if you don't have any of these borrow some. Seriously. Kids make you stop and look at things that we--as adults--have become desensitized to over the years. Like the chickens freely roaming the farm grounds. Chickens are hilarious. They were so busy pecking here and there in this fast forward constant motion. My two year old Nora especially got a kick out of those chickens. She giggled as she unsuccessfully tried to catch one. And since Red Bull was already on my mind I was wondering how much those chickens had had. Click.

After returning from the farm I knew that I wanted to do something with a chicken. How the rest of it materialized I can't fully explain--some of it is genetic. However, a month ago I had been rejected (it happens) from an art guild I was interested in joining. They called my work "special" (which I detest almost as much as "cute"), but not fitting "the fine art aspects that we require." This had been on my mind and then more generally how society wants to make us conform to fit into one group or another. The chicken became my vehicle to express that. He's been bound and gagged with a ransom note. Whoever kidnapped the bird wants that energy drink...they want the bird to settle down and be more like them or perhaps they want to try whatever he has that makes him so different. So here's my original, very hurried sketch. I named the chicken Reese (welsh name means enthusiastic) and I admit that after spending 80 hours of construction time together I started talking to him. Originally I had Reese on this platform, but that got nixed pretty early in the project.

After the idea, came the problem of getting enough cans. I didn't realize at the time how many I would need, but I did know that Red Bull cans were small to start with so I would probably need "a lot". My Red Bull contact provided me with major help, but I also posted fliers for empties at the local bars. If I would have known in the beginning that it would take 274 cans to complete Reece I'm not sure that I would have gone ahead with the project. My hands ached from cutting all of those cans apart. I had battle wounds and I started to dream about can cutting. Shards of metal were showing up all over our house. It was quite a month to say the least.

I had wired friends helping drink too. One morning I woke up to this (photo below). This is a photo I took from the second story of my house (through the window screen) of the Red Bull fairy. I had mentioned to friends that they didn't need to pull in the driveway with cans "just toss them in my front yard." Apparently they couldn't wait to do this. This was so funny I had to share.
So there you have the highlights of the "why" and more insight as to the "how". I'll post the finished project in the next day (or two).

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