Interview with an Artist

Artist and graphic designer Justin Deister tells us more about his piece Mr Caribou, which is featured in our upcoming exhibit Black, White, and Metal. Learn more about his work below and head to the bottom of this post for detailed information about our upcoming show.

Our 40 West Arts tiny interview with Justin …

1. Why the name, Mr Caribou?

The name refers to the Caribou Ranch near Nederland, the barn was converted to a recording studio in the early 70’s. Many musicians made great music there including Joe Walsh, Elton John and Chicago. It lies in an absolutely peaceful valley. Not realizing what it was, my wife and I recently discovered it for ourselves when we were out hiking and took refuge there from a sudden rainstorm. I named the piece Mr Caribou in its honor.

Mr Caribou, Justin Deister


2. What was your inspiration for the piece?

My inspiration and process are intertwined so closely that there is no discernible difference. I am a graphic designer and I love the design of all things so I collect the stuff of our culture – water faucets to watches, cameras, gears and bank vault doors, springs and burned out toasters.
I have a vague inventory in my head of a lot of junk I collect and pull out hundreds of items for each piece and kind of stir them around until they arrive. Mr Caribou is a collection of music related items, all of which suggests musical arts and vaguely creates something that is more than the sum of its parts. Nothing is laid out in my head. It all takes place as I see it and a story begins to present itself. I allow myself to be open minded and go with the flow.

3. This piece has a lot of (arguably) outdated technology in it – record, old fraying AV cords – is there anything behind this or is it more about finding materials that have the look and feel that you are going for?

Sometimes materials are closely related while other pieces stretch thematic relationships. I have no problem using an exhaust fan, water sprinkler, fuel gauge and swimming goggles together. It’s more about an overall impression. A story that I present might intentionally include pieces that don’t suit the content but provide the desired form, or the reverse. Mystery is more fun, and in the ambiguous and subjective there is meaningful self-discovery – that’s what I want.

4. Finally, it seems like the glasses add a bit of humor to this piece? Is that something you try to do in your work?

A lot of my work has a humorous element, or is at least generally uplifting. However, I retain the purposefully subjective because I like to allow the viewer to decide how to interpret and create their own story. In this case, the glasses reinforce the human aspect, help describe the era and hint at the character of a musician that the viewer has a memory of, and will make it their own.

See more of Justin’s work here.

Join us December 1-31, 2015 for our Black, White & Metal exhibition, celebrating the black and white, the primal, the monochromatic palette.

OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, December 4th, 5-7PM

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