Friday, April 15, 2011

Spotlight: Layet Johnson

A few weeks ago, I took photos of the cactus installation on the ceiling on the third floor of the arts building at UGA. I was lucky enough to meet the artist, grad student Layet Johnson, after class one night & got to talk to him a bit about his work. First off, the goods:

this installation was made using those panel things that hold up ceilings in buildings (you know what i'm talking about), plywood in various colors, cactuses, aluminum, and a basketball.

I've heard a lot of people try to figure out how the cacti hang upside down, so here's the secret: Johnson drills holes in the plywood, shoves the cactuses in there, and provides support using thin wires to help suspend them. You can see it if you look really, really closely.

So what does this work mean, exactly? I thought it had a political undertone when I spoke to him about it. It's easy to make that mistake, I guess. I thought that it was stereotyping 2 cultures; middle eastern (with the cacti and the sand-colored plywood) and American (with the basketball and aluminum panel). Maybe it was a metaphor for our current war? He kindly said no, but agreed that the best type of artwork is one that has multiple meanings and interpretations to multiple people.

He was vague about the meaning, but says that he enjoys basketball. The blue plywood represents water, the tan plywood represents sand, and the brownish plywood represents earth. The cacti are a common element of his artwork. Speaking of which, here are images (taken from his website) of his other works:

He was part of a crazy performance art piece with , where they used Google Earth to navigate across the world in digital water.

The Odd of You Liking This, 2010

Employee of the Year (performance piece), 2010

Grindstone, 2011

Seven Samurai (the real pop the fake), 2010

Untitled (Cactus Chair), 2010

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