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                                                ARTIST STATEMENT

    After attending Graduate School and then relocating to the vibrant French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1998, a transformative shift unfolded in my artistic endeavors. While I continued to successfully sell my drawings and paintings along the Cathedrals's fence, the constraints of limited studio space delayed my casting and carving projects. Nevertheless, I discovered a boundless supply of multicolored plastics from local shops, scattered on the streets. Promptly, I began creatively assembling them with hot glue onto armatures crafted from discarded wood, marking the initiation of my unique artistic process. 

     Local exhibitions garnered attention, securing a small grant from the state. However, entry into more prestigious shows was denied, with reasons citing concerns about the longevity of ephemeral structures and the preference of investment collectors for traditional, valuable materias like bronze or marble. This setback fueled my exploration into the philosophies of artist such as Marcel Duchamp, leading me to movements such as the Italian Arte Povera.

 

     Duchamp an avid chess player, beleived that art should engage the mind as well as the eye. He challenged the notion that historical mediums, techniques, and skills could not adequately relate to modern life, opting for mundane found objects to cynically question our beleifs. His influence intertwined with surrealism paved the way for minimalism and conceptualism, profoundly impacting my own artistic expression.

     Another influential group, the Arte Povera, emerged from Italy, using impoverished, repurposed materials to critique societal pursuits of excess. Learning of the enviromental impact of New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, measured by the volume of waste sent to landfills, further fueled my contemplation on the value of art.

 

     Reflecting on the enigma of art's value, I recall Piero Manzoni's audacious act in 1961 when he canned his own excrement and sold it by weight, equating it to the price of gold. In 2019 Mauricio Cattelan's "Comedian" sculpture, featuring a banana duct-taped to a wall, fetched prices ranging from $120,000 to $150,000. The absurdity and controversy surrounding such works, often devoid of tangible artistic elements, highlight the influence of hype, popularity, media exposure, and unconventional narratives in shaping the perceived value and fame of contemporary art.

     I am not opposed to artists who create exclusively for collector's cash. Perhaps, a considerable portion of art operates as a kind of con, mirroring the narrative of "The Emporer's New Clothing."  Personally, I  beleive we receive what we deserve, and as the saying goes, "One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure." Now that you can realize the essence of my thoughts, I hope you can appreciate the aspirations driving my work.

     This perspective encorages a reevaluation of the conventional norms surrounding art and challenges the dichotomy between commercial success and artistic integrity. It highlights the subjective nature of value in art, emphasizing the diverse ways individuals perceive, connect with,an assign significance to creative expressions.

                                                                                                                               KENNETH MILESTONE

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