The Norman Transcript

N-town stories

June 14, 2013

Local art exhibit explores technology

NORMAN — After the U.S. auto industry took a serious financial hit in 2008, artist Matthew Boonstra began developing sculptures reflecting human dependency on machines.

Boonstra’s sculptures express a dichotomy of sympathy for the human pain involved, concern about past business models and the negative impact internal combustion transportation has on the environment.

“They stem from living in the Detroit area of southeast Michigan,” he said about his sculptures. “There’s over 200 years of automotive industry experience among my extended family.”

Boonstra’s figurative and object-based sculptures made during the last three years will be on display at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main St., June 14 to July 13.

The public is invited to an opening reception 6-10 p.m. today in conjunction with June’s 2nd Friday Circuit of Art. A closing reception is scheduled for 6-10 p.m. July 12.

Since this body of work was somewhat autobiographical for Boonstra, he got out of the art studio to do some external research in vehicle factories. Boonstra interviewed several generations of industrial workers, and sculpture ideas quickly began to form. The works are not blatant political statements.

“They became inquiries about where we go and how we think about these things,” Boonstra said. “The title of the show ‘Interruptions’ goes to these sculptures being reflective points about our socio-economic circumstances and how we participate in that.”

One sculpture, titled “Have You Tried Walking?” (2011), is a fuel filler neck mounted atop a set of plaster cast human legs. The message couldn’t be clearer: You have become your car.

The artist recognizes the importance of petroleum production to his host state in terms of employment and that it’s presently a key component of the world economy.

“Finding a balance between being good stewards of the environment and seeking sustainability are the points of reflection that I hope to offer in my work,” he said.

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