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Ben Kelley, Untitled 01 detail

Benjamin Kelley, Untitled 01 (detail), 2019, Valcromat, vinyl, acrylic, painted brass, Iphone chassis and earth, carved ancient bog oak (human tooth), 3.25 x 11.25 x 5 inches.



Benjamin Kelley presents a fascinating cross-section of material culture in his most recent series, “Kill A Horse” (a title inspired by the 1904 Cadillac advertising slogan: “You can kill a horse but not a Cadillac”). The artist extracts organic materials and mass-produced artifacts from varied historical contexts in order to integrate and symbolically equalize them in synergistic, skillfully crafted sculptural forms.


"The automobile is a mystic vessel. A physical manifestation of the American dream, beauty and subsequent violence inherent in commodity fetishism. These sculptures are the outcome of collaboration with artifacts left in the wake of such human activity. Extracted from the landscape, relics of our desires are now positioned, encapsulated and preserved within fabricated structures. Sculptural finishes of exacting nature lure us in while vibrations occur between the abject raw textures of dust, dirt, rust, and decay presented by the relics." - Benjamin Kelley

Benjamin Kelley Untitled 03, 2019 Vinyl, carved ancient bog oak, gold tooth 7.5 x 14.5 x 7 inches

Benjamin Kelley, Untitled 03, 2019, Vinyl, carved ancient bog oak, gold tooth, 7.5 x 14.5 x 7 inches.

Benjamin Kelley accesses a profound span of natural and human history in his utilization of found objects such as: an ancient bone tool, bog oak and automotive fixtures. He fashions provocative nexuses between these temporally and corporeally disparate items by figuring intimate points of bodily contact including: interior car upholstery, a cell phone cover, simulated teeth, a carved finger, and surgical instruments. Engaging natural agents of acidity, oxidation, decay and barnacle growth, Kelley elegantly depreciates iconic products of technical progress.


 “Bog oak carries great material history. The wood is in the early stages of fossilization resulting from hundreds or thousands of years of submersion in a peat bog. The reaction between the tannins in the oak and the acidity of the bog changes the density and pigmentation of the wood, coloring it dark black throughout.” - Benjamin Kelley