What you missed with Kevin Beasley

Tuesday, February 16, RMCAD hosted Kevin Beasley, guest speaker for its World Building VASD series. Kevin Beasley’s practice traverses sculpture, photography, and sound performance. His presentation and talk to the RMCAD Community (and others) was about the process behind  A View of a Landscape. It showed how one idea or project spans and influences several other projects over eight or nine years from conception to the final product. 

The process started with an eBay search. Beasley found a cotton gin motor for sale online when he was looking for something to hand process materials. He credited eBay as one of the best places to go for obscure items and objects. Unsure what he’d do with the motor, he was intrigued by the ad despite the motor not working. He showed a collection of photos taken in Alabama, where he traveled to purchase the motor from Bobby, who showed him around. Beasley turned this experience into his thesis exhibition, and the 1915 motor sat untouched in the exhibition as a marker of time and place. He felt it was appropriate to situate the motor beside other works and projects he was working on, like a shower curtain, and parts of a metal desk with inscriptions of text from the ad for the motor, along with a poem Beasley wrote. 

Beasley proceeded to walk us through his grad school experience with imagery, where he started to DJ after feeling the need to bring more “weird” sonic texture to the scene. His musical background and equipment helped him work in multimedia and shape the way he thought about sound as a whole. After moving to New York, he got accepted into the Studio Museum in Harlem. It was there that he started making acoustic mirrors, thin-wall pieces made of resin, developed his work with resin, polyurethane foam, and traditional casting materials using them in odd ways. 

Beasley’s work with multimedia and sound sparked the idea of putting the cotton gin motor in a soundproof chamber, where the viewer had to go to another room to hear the machine, a unique and sensory experience that had not been explored before. Sonic frequencies were incorporated into the work, so that it truly made you “feel the sound,” and hear things that the viewer may not have ever heard before. The exhibition was presented at The Whitney Museum of American Art from December 2018 – March 2019. It became a space for reflection and thinking about the legacy of cotton, the global history of it, and the little ways the motor touched on these histories.

To learn more about Kevin Beasley’s, his VASD talk, or follow his social channels, check out the links below:

Instagram – @kevinmbeasley
Facebook – Kevin Beasley


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