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Jeffrey Kalstrom

2014 FSP/Jerome Fellowship Artist

The Doghouse

17’6” x 8’ x 16’
Doors, Windows, Construction Lumber

Artist Statement
My work is focused on animal imagery and its relationship to human culture. In my work I try to balance the humorous with the philosophical. The various ways animal forms are inflected in my work reflect the comic and absurd ways humans strive for meaning and pleasure using animals as their doubles and opposites. I work with anthropomorphic images: animals are humanized and humans become animals. These images are mixed and blended to explore the ways in which humans, of course, animals and the ways in which we distance our animal natures by abstracting and "cartooning" animal images.

"The Dog House" is my vision of a small house and studio for an artist who was obsessed with dogs. It is an answer to the question "how much space does an artist need to live and work?" It is my idea of a more ecologically friendly and humorous lifestyle. I am interested in the "tiny house" movement that questions the American taste for energy wasting, expensive, a-bathroom-for-every-bedroom, monster homes.
I like to push intersections between art, design, architecture, and science. I believe these divides are blurring, and these fields can learn from each other. To create objects and spaces that are aware of their environment and can dynamically respond to it, I develop my own interactive technology, customizing circuits, sensors, and code to interface with physical phenomena – people, movement, air, light, and sound. I believe this challenges not only the usual limitations of technology but the usual parameters of an artistic experience.
Sometimes the complexity of craft in what I make is transparently revealed as itself worthy of reflection, other times it is hidden to invite the viewer to focus on powerfully simple fundamentals of their own agency and perception. I believe the interfaces and experiences of the future must be engineered, yet also still contain mystery, difficulty, and beauty.

The conceptual underpinning of "The Dog House" is the life and philosophy of Diogenes of Sinope, (now Sinop, Turkey) a Greek philosopher and contemporary of Plato. Diogene's philosophy was a life as "lived action". He called his philosophy "the dog" or "kynikos" - "dog-like" in Greek. The word cynicism today, but a more Zen-like assault on the conventions of every custom. He believed in living a simple natural life much like that lived by dogs. Diogenes said: "Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards".

Jeffrey Kalstrom

Born 1995, Sleepy Eye, MN
Resides Currently Resides in Duluth, MN

• BFA Sculpture, University of Minnesota, 1984
• MFA Sculpture, University of Southern California, 1996

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