Des Moines
Des Moines

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Who’s exhibiting and opportunities for artists

Free Art Friday reveals the 2019 Art Week Poster Artist

This years Art Week poster artist, Karen Lewis, was discovered in a game of hiding free art in public. We asked her a few questions about making things outta cardboard:

Follow  Free Art Friday Des Moines  for more Art Week artist reveals.

Follow Free Art Friday Des Moines for more Art Week artist reveals.

RACHEL BUSE: When did you realize the special sculptural properties of cardboard?

KAREN LEWIS: Junk sculptures have been one of my favorite projects in my kid's art classes at the Des Moines Art Center since I started teaching there a few years ago. Garbage/cardboard is just so versatile and since all you really need is a pile of recyclables or trash and maybe some scissors, it's very accessible. Working with the best crew of friends on Yarn House Live, making all kinds of weird cardboard stuff, over the last year has pretty much been a dream come true. Love the elementary school play aesthetic. 

Karen Lewis is the dream captain for the props department on Yarn House Live. From left to right: Mia Farrell, Karen Lewis and Rachel Buse

Karen Lewis is the dream captain for the props department on Yarn House Live. From left to right: Mia Farrell, Karen Lewis and Rachel Buse

That didn't really answer your question of when. No "ah-ha! cardboard is great" moment, I guess. I've always liked making things out of trash and kind of love being able to toss my art projects back into the trash/recycling when they're finished when I'm bored/unhappy with them. 

RB: What is Yarn House Live and how did you get wrapped up that project?

KL: Yarn house Live is a delightful internet tv show about the misadventures of Leslie Hall (of Leslie and the Lys) and her roommate, Ribbons (the chicken). Our cast & crew of creatives and friends filmed most of our episodes in a barn tv studio in rural Boone county. What a wild time. I’ve been involved on and off with Leslie and the Lys projects for like a decade (yikes I’m old). How did I get involved, hmmmm. Mostly luck, I guess. I’ve been so lucky to end up surrounded by the most creative, fearless, and driven people. Oh! Being only loosely employed helped too. Even though I couldn’t (still can’t) sing or dance, they took a chance on me as a Leslie and the Lys backup singer since I didn’t really have a job and was (still am) great at carrying stuff. Carrying stuff is actually a highly marketable skill when you’re in a touring band/performance art piece!

Karen Lewis constructed a series of sculptures to use in promos for #artweekdsm2019.

Karen Lewis constructed a series of sculptures to use in promos for #artweekdsm2019.

RB: What do you like about the process of studying a familiar object, like a pair of nail clippers, and making your own version?

KL: I’ve always thought sculptures of ordinary objects are funny, especially when they’re extra big, extra small, or made from materials that don’t really make sense. I actually have a collection of miniature toilets, which brings me so much joy! When I make cardboard versions of things I have to try to wrap my head around the design and mechanics of the object before I can translate it to cardboard. I’m not a great planner so I always fail a bunch of times and am constantly ripping projects apart when they don’t work so I can re-work them. It’s like tinkering for dummies.

Look for a chance to see Lewis’s miniature toilet collection at the Des Moines Social Club during Art Week. Continue to discover who else is exhibiting this year by following Free Art Friday Des Moines.

Rachel Buse