Beuys Will Be Beuys Skateboard Deck

A skateboard deck, felt, encaustic, gold leaf, and the spirit of Joseph Beuys.

Beuys will be Beuys
I like skating and skating likes me
I created a skateboard deck to be auctioned off at Bordobello this year. The proceeds from this deck (and 199 others created by other artists and designers) go directly to benefit outreach programs of the Colorado chapter of the AIGA. I had a number of initial ideas, including a riff on yin, yang, and the self-aligning ball-bearing assembly found in every skateboard wheel; but in the end the spirit of conceptual artist Joseph Beuys moved me to create the art you see below. 

Beuys, among other things, created a bit of performance art titled I Like America and America Likes Me, in which he, covered in felt, occupied a New York gallery space with a wild coyote for three days. While I grew up around skateboards and had a lot of skating friends, I never took it up myself; I watched them glide over railings, into empty swimming pools, and (occasionally) off of the sides of cars with ease. I preferred to photograph my friends doing what they loved, instead of joining them. So, like Beuys, I stood and admired something from a distance, enjoying it yet not wanting to fully embrace it by taking part; entranced, afraid yet tantalized. This skateboard represents my love and admiration for the process, art, and flow of skating, while tying it to design and Beuys' approach to observation, interaction, and healing.

The board is a plain pine plank, on which I've written quotes from skaters and designers about why they skate and design. It was interesting how much overlap there was in the sentiment between the two groups, although not really surprising: both involve passion, creativity, and a desire to express one's art and point of view to a larger world. The deck was then wrapped in eight layers of black felt, stitched on the ends in red thread. A silhouette of a coyote was cut out of the felt, exposing some of the text underneath. Gold leaf (a reference to another Beuys work) was then placed on the felt edges of the cutout. I then filled the void with encaustic (wax), which obscured and then completely hid the text below (I wanted to use lard, another important medium to Beuys, but I wanted to make a piece that someone could actually live with, too!).

The finished piece is as much about the process of its creation as it is about the artifact. The hidden meanings, the tactile enjoyment that came from working the fabric and the encaustic, and the manipulated readymade-ness of the wrapped deck is very satisfying to me. 
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