Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kyle Fokken - Sculptor

"Tank IV (Schlepper)"
Kyle Fokken

Kyle Fokken
Minneapolis, MN
Website: profile:
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Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I am primarily a mixed media sculptor who uses found objects when appropriate and fabricates other parts to form a unique aesthetic. I am known for my "toy inspired" sculptures that speak of the cultural transfer of beliefs and values between generations within our society. I use distressed materials to convey an "antique" aesthetic to emphasize that these beliefs have been long established but are decayed and in need of renewal or examination.

I am currently working on artwork for two local shows each featuring something I haven't done in a while - drawing for drawings sake and figurative sculpture for a self portrait show. (Titles, reception date and links down below)

These are different from other projects since I've been doing my "toys" for about 10 years and haven't done figurative work in about 15. Drawing for me has been more of a means to an end - a way to document and flesh out ideas for sculpture rather than an exploration of shadow and line quality. The dilemma is whether to maintain my "brand" by doing work in a similar vein - i.e. drawings and sculpture that feature elements of my current work or to veer off on something entirely different and risk failure.


"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
I want people to look at my work and be aware of the beauty and absurdity of the world around them. I've often had people coming up to me and say "why don't your dogs have heads" while they should ask when they last saw a dog with wheels. Wheels are a regular feature on many toys and is a practical solution to making the toy move so the concept is commonplace and is not questioned. We've grown up with it.

I also want them to notice the engineering I put into the pieces. All pieces feature working parts to cement the "toy-ness" of the piece in the mind of the viewer but they are designed with a nod towards good engineering design - counter rotating propellors, streamlined forms, shock absorbers and a sense of direction of movement- up/down, forward/backward. The function of the piece dictates the form. The idea that the sculptures are able to act as model prototypes of functioning vehicles ads a level of realism to the work allowing them to be enjoyed on many different levels.


What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Stick to it. Apply to everything you can and make as much work as possible. Just like evolution, after each successive generation, the good mutations will stick and you'll continue to get better and more efficient at doing making your work. When it gets boring, try something new.

Tell me about your work space and your creative process?
Complete utter chaos. Plain and simple. I have to bounce between a lot of different tools and media in my studio. It's is a messier version of "Old Maid" or "Husker Du?" - I have to remember where I saw a particular found object or material. I liken my process to mental juggling of forms and ideas. Deadlines are necessary to help them to congeal together.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Being a sculptor, my first thought is of sculptors so I will list them first.
My early favorites are from my years of volunteering at the Soap Factory - Michael Rathbun,
Rob Fisher - and
Chris Larson who currently has work up at the Walker Art Center.

Unfortunately, they've moved out of state, but I consider them MN artists since they based here when they influenced me. I started out doing installation work and it will always be my first love, but storage and family come first so I had to boil them down into forms I could manage and sell.

Rollin Marquette and Amy Toscani are two more favorite sculptors.

2 D favorites include Pete Driessen , John Diebel and photographer Steve Ozone.
All have a political bent to their work which really tickles my mind.

"Ship of Fools"

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Well, I've got two kids so I've got to keep them in mind when I go to look at work. I've been taking my kids to the "Monster Museum" which is what we call Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I started calling it that since it's hard to get a 2 year old to wrap his mind around the term "art". We'd always start out at the New South Pacific and African areas first and work our way through the Far East and finally to the European area's decapitated head of John the Baptist! There is so much work through history that is monstrous in nature. To see the collection from a child's viewpoint it really is a "monster museum".

I try to make it up to see the Tantra Car and always the MAEP Gallery. Of course the Walker Art Center and Soap Factory are on my list, but it really depends on the show. I love cerebral modern work but as big a fan of a lot of the minimalism in the permanent collection. Other favorite haunts of mine are the Rogue Buddha Gallery, Traffic Zone Gallery and SpotArt Gallery. The truth of the matter is that I'm usually busy with the kids or trying to get into the studio to get work done.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? is pretty good as well as the City of Minneapolis' "Mary Altman's Opportunities List" via email - Otherwise, I subscribe and write for a blog on Applied Kinetic Arts (AKA) . I often check out Call for Entry (CAFE) or

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I tend to keep very busy. I have a show "Reusing My Religion" currently up at Ridgewater Community College in Willmar, MN - until March 16th, a group show of drawings at the Rogue Buddha Gallery "Tableau" opening on March 11th, 2011, an opening at Hennes Art Company Gallery the next day March 12th "Art of the Self Portrait" , Hopkins Sculpture Walk, Art-A-Whirl. I have a trio of sculpture walks happening out of state -Sioux Falls, SD, Eau Claire, WI, and Castlegar, BC Canada. I also am participating in an outdoor art festival in Chicago in June.

"Airway to Heaven"

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