HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — With its multiple galleries, a tropical conservatory and 52 acres of trails to roam, the Huntington Museum of Art can have thousands of visitors stroll through without any noticing the outdoor Virginia Cavendish Courtyard.
That most likely changed on a cold Friday morning when edgy Cincinnati artist, Aaron Kent, whose art world nickname is "AK-47," started assembling "Bones." Opened Saturday and up through March 16, "Bones," is the skeletons of a snapping turtle he calls Fred, and Frankendeer, a grazing skeleton deer made up of five different deer skeletons he found along the highways, I-75 and I-71.
This is the second sculpture exhibit, part of an ongoing series in the Virginia Cavendish Courtyard, which presents work by emerging artists from the region.
A true provocateur and punk rocker at heart, Kent, who graduated with a bachelor's of fine arts in sculpture from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and then worked for seven years at Casting Arts and Technology in Cincinnati, working in mold making, bronze casting and metal fabrication, has raged against the machine in his past art works — taking sculpture out of the galleries and onto the streets.
In past shows he has worn a hazmat suit for his show "Living in a Terrorist State," and painted iconic religious leaders on dollar bills to comment on how people use God for money and make money their God.
Kent, who since 2011 has owned DIY Printing, a funky artist-run co-op print shop in Cincinnati, said bones are a visceral and powerful symbol of death and our mortality, as they are one of the last things left of any human or animal.
"Often people think of them as grotesque and are repelled by the sight of them, whether real or in art," Kent wrote in his artist statement. "In fact, bones are the basis of our bodies, the structure that supports it, and they become the reminders of a life after the rest of the body has decomposed."
Kent said he began delving deeper into the art of Bones when he was an artist in residence at the Osage Arts Community in central Missouri where he worked for several months creating vibrant sculptures built with animal bones and castings. He brought back a whole carload of bones.
Since then he has been going back and forth between 2D printmaking projects with Bones and then 3-D works such as the one at the Museum of Art.
"This is the kind of full skeletal piece that I have been wanting to do for years," Kent said of the Huntington work. "To me it speaks of death and life and the relationship and equality between the two, and to the body's spiritual connection to the circle of life." Kent, who has shown his work at many galleries in the Cincinnati area, including Malton, Semantics, Red Saw Art, Gallery M, SYN Gallery, Design Smith Gallery, Delaya Contemporary, and Base, continued those thoughts in his artists statement.
"In creating the Bones series of sculptures, I hope to expand the symbolism of bones. I want to connect them to life and nature and to demonstrate the gift given back to nature. It was and still is important for people to connect the cycle of life with bones and to realize their beauty and gift to the earth." This exhibit is sponsored by the Katherine & Herman Pugh Exhibitions Endowment; West Virginia Division of Culture and History; and National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.
For more information about this exhibit and others now up at the Huntington Museum of Art, go online at www.hmoa.org or call 304-529-2701. See more of Aaron Kent's work at www.aaronkent.org.
Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com