It’s no surprise that the era in which we live influences who we are. Pop culture fads and tensions, generational zeitgeist and major news events create common bonds that travel across cultural and geographic lines, forces that are especially potent as we come of age in our late teens.
These cultural influences are especially relevant to artists. How particular views and outlooks on the world manifest in their work can be almost palpable.
That was the premise for the new show at Studio &, “So Far: Reconstructing 40 Years,” which brings together five Durango artists, each who graduated high school in 1994 and recently or will soon turn 40.
The was an opportunity for the artists – Tim Kapustka, Dan Garner, Shay Lopez, Tom Kipp and Dan Groth, all friends and all transplants who’ve found their ways to Durango – to reflect on their lives and art to this point and to produce work that captures that reflection in some way.
For the multimedia show, Studio & artist Kapustka created vector illustrations representing each year of his life.
The Herald asked him to talk about turning 40, the cultural significance of graduating high school in 1994 and how it has affected his life and art.
What’s the significance of turning 40 for you?
I always thought 40 was a big deal. Growing up, I always envisioned myself at 40 with a wife and kids and a king-sized bed, with a lawn that I was proud of. Not that it was something that I thought about a lot, but that was kind of the sketched-out image that was there. Happy and getting older. Now that 40 has come for me, it is really quite literally nothing. If anything, it is some sort of benchmark that society has established as important. I get it in some respect. The way I have treated it is like part of a hike climbing a mountain. Several spots along the way, I usually take a break and stop and look back, look down to where I’ve come from and how far I’ve made it. That break doesn’t last too long, and I’m usually on my way fairly quickly. But I would say that climbing that mountain isn’t fully experienced without those breaks. After all, it’s the journey, right? I have tried to treat this experience like that. I’m looking back where I’ve been. It’s been a great exercise and one that I am very grateful to have been able to do. I am also looking forward to getting on my way and continuing my journey.
How has turning 40 affected your art?
I think one of the things that I have realized at my little pit stop to do this project is that this is what I want to be doing. I want to put more energy and time into making art, making things that I think up ... just making. In a lot of ways, I can see how these 40 years were necessary for me to get to this place. I’m really grateful for those experiences and they certainly made me who I am, and I feel a responsibility to those experiences to honor them and use them in making art or creating in some way.
How do you think the cultural filter of graduating high school in 1994 has influenced you in life and your work?
I think a nice byproduct of the theme of this show is that it will be interesting to see similarities in our works. It’s an interesting experiment: we all grew up in very different places in different situations, but we were all very much filtered through the same society and times. I think that will show through in the exhibit. I mean, we experienced the same stuff. Sadly, the OJ chase was our Kennedy moment. That is kind of lame in a way, but we got to see this event be largely fabricated on television so the news stations could have something to cover ... on television. I think in some ways that was important because that is the norm now. News is created so it can be reported. But enough about that.