Kyle Fokken is a Minnesota artist who values the concept of making do with available materials and indeed his nostalgia-fuelled sculptures are a sign of this. His Flying Dog Series is based on his pit bull terrier, mechanized toy vehicles and folk art; the combination of these elements serves to illustrate faults and blessings of our society and culture. Fokken says, "I refer to the bloodline and rearing of the much maligned "pit bull" as a metaphor to compare our genetic makeup to our cultural mores. Granted, "pits" were bred as aggressive dogfighters, but I don't feel that its genes dictate its temperament the same way that ours are not dictated exclusively by our genes. Human nature is not preordained. We are not destined to be exclusively good or bad people but depending on the circumstance, a smattering of both. I incorporate folk art into my work to illustrate this perspective by examining the care given to objects hand made expressly for a son or daughter often times with whatever material is at hand. I feel that as parents - I've got a young daughter and son - we nurture attitudes and behaviors by encouraging some viewpoints and not others through our actions, language and our approach to play."
More about these pieces after the jump.
Artist: Kyle Fokken
About Hemmo, influenced by a World War II German Heinkel He-111 Bomber, the same type that bombed Guernica in the Spanish Civil War, Fokken says, "Hemmo's "cockpit" is welded steel with scuffed plexiglas to conceal that there is no pilot and the whole of the body is covered with scrap leather that I painted in a winter camouflage pattern. I placed a pair of surplus shop "Bundeswehr" (German Federal Defense Force) cloth badges on either side of the torso. The propulsion nacelle features a antique looking rotary aircraft engine with a wooden propellor. I like the hi tech / lo tech shift that happens on this and many of my pieces. I think it especially works in this piece and at the same time offers something unexpected. Also, the wood and copper leaf "warm" up the piece so it doesn't look quite so diabolical."
"I happened upon a World War I photograph in National Geographic of an American soldier and his guard dog both dressed in rubber coats, gas masks and goggles for protection from poisonous gas attaches at that time. I used almost the same materials to make this piece. The front covering is a gas mask turned inside out to expose the non-compression "pimples" that allow the mask to fit the face and properly filter out chemicals. The black metal buckles on the legs and the rubber covering the form are from cheap rubber boots. The inspiration for the feather element actually came from some sculptures of ancient Babylonian kings as mythical winged griffons that I saw during a trip to the British Museum in London a while back.
I think in some way, I may have had the over- zippered leather outfits from Michael Jackson's "Bad" video or Tim Burton's film "Edward Scissorhands" in mind when I made this piece... who knows?"
"Eggo is the dog form rearranged with an extra set of "legs" on which oversize tires are mounted. The yellow metal is reclaimed from "Tonka Truck" toys that were actually made in Minnetonka, MN and is emblematic of the type of supersized trucks used on Minnesota's Iron Range. As with all my pieces, it actually functions as a toy in that the "dumper" actually dumps, wheels move and flex over terrain and it is actually spring loaded so that as weight is added in the dumper, it actually "crouches" down to maintain a stable center of gravity."