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Featured Artist: Dayton Castleman

August 8, 2010

Our current featured artist is Dayton Castleman.  Dayton was born in New Orleans in 1975. He received his BA in Art from Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Trinity Christian College near Chicago. Dayton, his wife Karen and daughter Anna live in Oak Park, Illinois.  The piece shown in the header is titled Chicken (2009). It is a half-scale F16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, and a full scale Canadian Goose playing chicken.  The jet and the goose are made out of cardboard, polystyrene foam, hot glue, and other hardware.

There are (at least) two things that I especially love about Dayton’s work.  First is the sheer materiality of many of his sculptures.  His pieces are substantial.  Although he uses a wide range of materials, one feels that, in each case, the materials are carefully considered, and, in many of his works, the physical structures themselves are emphasized.  Furthermore, his willingness to appropriate various forms of technology adds a great deal of interest to his sculptures, and opens up the possibility of a more collaborative relationship with the audience.  Second, there is a surrealist vein running through Dayton’s work that often leads to both profundity and humor.  These objects and installations attest to a remarkable playfulness that serves to deepen (rather than trivialize) important and salient questions about reality.  While the images below are good examples of this aspect of Dayton’s work, allow me to recommend viewing this video of Bread Bird, in which he explores whether Chicagoland pigeons will eat bread in the shape of a bird.  A truly humorous inquiry into avian morality.

Please visit Dayton’s website.  Here you will find the images below and much more!

Tilting at Giants, 2006. (Tilting at Giants is a permanent site-specific sculpture located in the historic Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church building in downtown Philadelphia, PA. Now operated by Broad Street Ministry, the work was commissioned by the ministry with an open call for proposals administrated through the Philadelphia Percent for Art Program.)

Infinite Bridge. 2006.  Steel.  120x120x9 inches.

Paper Shredder.  2007.  paper shredders, contractor’s paper, ceiling tile, recessed light, wood, hardware.  (I thought of this work one evening at dinner when my daughter asked how chicken salad was made. I went to our office, quickly cut a chicken shape out of paper, grabbed the paper shredder and brought it to the dinner table. I gave her the chicken and told her to put it in the shredder, which she did. “That’s basically how chicken salad is made,” I said, and immediately it popped into my head that it might be interesting to shred long, continuous sheets of paper.)

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