Trash as a take-off point
Brooklyn artist Jason Rogenes wants to build a futuristic world for kids. He's confined to a limited space—a gallery with a climbing wall in it—but when he's done, his “Megalitransponder” installation will transform the environment and encourage kids to use their limitless imaginations.
“I tend to work a little bit off the cuff— the materials inform the direction I'm going,” Rogenes says, standing in the empty room. His installation is part of TRASH, the impressive new exhibition opening at The New Children's Museum (thinkplay create.org) on Oct. 15 and 16 with a block-party celebration.
“And when I'm done,” he continues, “maybe the shape will remind them of spaceships or clouds. I want to keep it as a place where they can dream. I'm more interested in the narrative being a malleable thing versus a didactic thing.”
Rogenes builds his sci-fi inspired sculptures and installations with found Styrofoam and cardboard, then embeds lights throughout. He's had shows all over the world, but this is his first piece made specifically for kids.
The museum is one of the only kids museums in the world that asks contemporary artists to create new work. For TRASH, the museum commissioned a dozen environmentally aware artists, including Rogenes, Vik Muniz and Kianga Ford, to create site-specific pieces with waste-conscious themes challenging kids and families to go beyond the idea of simple recycling and start thinking about more creative alternatives.
“I didn't start out as an ecologically minded artist,” Rogenes says as he picks through a huge pile of salvaged Styrofoam. “It wasn't really my badge at all. I was just young and didn't have much money, but it's something I definitely like about my work now.”
Following the path of progress
Joshua Krause certainly isn't the first artist who started with figurative paintings before transitioning into more challenging abstract work.
His most recent transition, though, is unique. In an attempt to reach a wider audience and a more affordable price point for his upcoming solo show, Extracted Abstractions—which opens from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Habitat House (1008 21 St. in Golden Hill)—Krause is creating art based on remixed airline logos and mid-century-modernist ideals.
“I'm at peace with this, finally: I'm not a pure painter,” he says. “Just like I'm not a pure art director and I'm not a pure graphic designer. My talent is my ability to mix things and reorganize material, and I'm just trying to keep figuring out interesting ways of doing that while still dealing with my themes of life and death.”
Back when Krause quit doing his figurative work, he vowed to never go back. But in his new series of limited-edition prints, apparel, sculpture and mixed-media work, characters started popping up again.
“I decided to stop fighting myself,” he says. “I don't want to adhere to any strict rule. I like hybridizations of stuff. I like when things get amalgamated and remade—hence the reworked airline logos.”
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