Kevin Box Press
Kevin Box in the News
A visit with Kevin Box at his studio in Cerrillos, NM
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff, Photos by Audrey Hall
Describe your studio
It is a dream come true, newly constructed, functional, and sustainable. We have employed passive solar design, geothermal heating and cooling, and 100 percent wastewater recycling and irrigation along with cisterns to catch the rain. We are working on LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Best of all, it’s a 12-foot commute from my house.
Have you given the studio a name?
It has now become the Turquoise Trail Sculpture Garden and Studio. My wife, Jennifer, and I are living our dream as we complete the first phase of building the home and studio. An ambitious future is planned to include studio casitas for artists-in-residence. That will take some time to realize, but we are helping it along.
How long have you planned the studio?
Since we bought the property, which was about six years ago. We did a master plan of the 35-acre property, working with Taliesin and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, in 2007 and began designing the building in 2010. I have seen a lot of other artists’ studios and taken good notes. Every time I move into a new space, the design improves and gets a little more efficient. This one is the best yet because I built it from scratch. The cabinet doors were one of the most important improvements in this studio. Sculpture requires a lot of tools and stuff, and it creates a lot of dust. Cabinet doors hide all the stuff and keep the dust on the floor. I use cargo containers located outside for storage of inventory, tools, and shipping materials. My friend and fellow sculptor Warren Cullar and I spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas and building models. I took classes at the local community college, and I did a lot of research. Our builder also contributed a lot. It’s the largest sculpture I have ever made.
What is the surrounding area like?
The word “dramatic” does not do justice to the 25- to 50-foot-tall rock formations that surround the studio in an area known as the Little Garden of the Gods near Santa Fe, NM. The 6,000-foot altitude provides very dry, clear, clean air that is ideal for my work. It’s an ancient place that has supported the arts for years.
How does living in the Santa Fe area influence your work?
Santa Fe is the second largest art market in the country. It keeps us busy. The sheer volume of collectors that move through Santa Fe provides enormous feedback, which I think is so important. I used to travel a lot more to find collectors, but in Santa Fe they come to you. And truly the climate here is something in itself. The high altitude affects you both physically and spiritually. I can work outside very comfortably in the summer, and we can travel in and out of New Mexico year-round without problems. That is important since we install work year-round all over the country. I have also incorporated stone into my work as a result of living here. It is a serious pain, but I love what the stones add to my work, and collectors respond really well to it.
Do you collect other artists’ works?
Jennifer and I have developed a passion for collecting artwork together. We have works by Jim Budish, Louisa McElwain, Warren Cullar, Jane DeDecker, Phillip Vigil, Carol Gold, Alyson Kinkade, and Wayne Salge, plus a collection of black-and-white photographs. We really like to see how artists approach different subject matter.
What is your favorite subject matter?
Life. Truth. Peace. Consciousness. And the dialogue between them. I use paper as a metaphor. I develop techniques for casting in bronze, stainless steel, aluminum—whatever metal is hot and pouring to preserve the ideas. I love the process of casting and art-making, but the content of the work has to be there if it’s going into metal.
Why are you drawn to origami as subject matter?
My favorite thing is the symbolism. Every piece begins with the same uncut square of paper. Like life, it’s all in what we make it. Right now I’m working on the most important works of my career, combining origami and stainless steel. It fully describes my philosophy of intelligent design, evolution, and divine creativity all in one sculptural statement.
How has your work evolved since the beginning of your career? Well, I started out as a printmaker, and now I am a sculptor. I still work with paper every day, but it goes through a very different and long process before I am finished with it in metal. It surely lasts a lot longer, and I get to play outside.
If your studio was on fire, what is the one thing you would save?
Since we now work in the same building, I would save my wife and my dogs. The sculptures would all survive.
What is the one place people will never find you?
When people come to visit, where do you like to take them?
We live on the Turquoise Trail, a National Scenic Byway with amazing things along the whole route from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. An amazing day trip could lead you to the oldest turquoise mine in North America, ancient Pueblo sites, and the Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum. You can also see Madrid, an old ghost town-turned-artist colony where the movie Wild Hogs was filmed. It is full of fun, funky shops and some great food, too. The Hollar restaurant in Madrid cooks the best burger I have ever eaten. They use a biscuit for the bun.
The New Mexican
Mixed Media — Paper trail: Origami sculpture by Kevin Box
By: Michael Abatemarco
Santa Fe artist Kevin Box gives permanent form to traditional Japanese origami in his large-scale metal sculptures. Origami in the Garden, an outdoor exhibition of his work, opens on Sunday, April 27, at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill (715 Camino Lejo).
Box begins each piece using a single, blank sheet of paper. He uses a lost-wax-casting method to capture the intricate folds of origami in bronze, aluminum, or stainless steel. “It took two years of tireless experimentation for me to develop the process of casting paper into bronze, another seven years to perfect, and it continues to evolve today,” Box writes on his website, www.outsidetheboxstudio.com. After casting, each piece is finished by hand to reproduce the look of the original paper design. Box’s sculptures, placed in locations throughout the garden, include horses, bison, cranes, and everyday items such as wrinkled sheets of paper and scissors. The exhibition also includes collaborations with origami artists Robert J. Lang, Te Jui Fu, and others
Santa Fe Reporter
Sculptor Kevin Box’s success is written in the stars
April 22, 2014, 12:00 am
By Enrique Limón
Alongside Japanese honeysuckle, “Indian Magic” crabapple and beaked yucca, a new exotic species has blossomed in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. It comes in the shape of 15 monumental sculptures by Kevin Box.
“It was one of the smoothest installs of my career,” Box says as he tours the grounds. Days prior, he had installed a 21-foot-tall Pegasus in Dallas that proved to be quite the challenge.
Inspired by the ancient art of traditional Japanese paper folding, Box’s metal pieces acquire an aesthetic all their own, juxtaposing common forms of origami, like cranes and paper airplanes, and turning them into the most resistant yet seemingly delicate pieces of art you’ll encounter.
This dichotomy is an integral part of his signature style.
“My background and my real passion is with paper,” Box, a former printmaker and graphic designer, says. “There’s nothing more beautiful than that blank, white sheet. To me, that’s historically the metaphor that all artists and creative people have to deal with.”
His shift to fine art was cemented when he got a chance to study art history abroad during his sophomore year at New York’s renowned School of Visual Arts. In Greece, surrounded by age-old beauty, he became aware that he was essentially “making landfill trash for a living—print advertising and package design.”
“I realized that there is this ancient dialogue about antiquity that’s been going on for thousands of years in the form of fine art, really—in architecture, in stone carvings and paintings,” he muses. “And this conversation was really about who we are and where we come from and you know, what are we gonna do.”
The move to sculpture was prompted both by paper’s vulnerability and Box’s love for public art. “I put paper down and began studying casting,” Box says.
Several apprenticeships later, he co-founded Deep In the Heart Art Foundry in the outskirts of Austin. He told his partners at the time that he’d accept materials and casting rights as payment.
Expanding his own practice, Box set up shop next door inside a former print shop that was filled to the rafters with old paper. He got the message loud and clear.
“I spent every waking hour in the foundry, developing these techniques and pursuing my own voice with paper and bronze, and marrying the two,” he recalls.
He’s standing in front of “Double Happiness”—a sculpture depicting two cranes building a nest made out of olive branches, mounted on a natural stone setting.
The crane elements are bright white, a visual sleight of hand he’s perfected over the years.
“I started with traditional brown, black and green patinas,” he says, “but it made the ‘paper’ look like bronze, so I tried a white patina—totally opaque, all over the bronze, covering it up and hiding it—and it was blasphemy.”
The shock settled, one of his co-workers said, “’What are you doing? It looks like paper!’ I was like, eureka.”
He then aimed to be in as many art shows as possible. It was during one of those exhibits that somebody told him his pieces were reminiscent of origami. Box, the consummate paper man, hadn’t yet put the two together.
“I really didn’t get it,” he says. His works then were geometric symbols that reflected a personal desire to “describe the architecture of the soul.”
People around him kept pushing the term and origami-centric books for Christmas and birthdays became the norm until he caved in.
Box remembers stopping halfway during his first attempt, reconsidering its artistic merits and slowly unfolding the piece. The results were reminiscent of his earlier, philosophical pieces.
“When I unfolded it, there was this perfect mandala, this star inside,” he says, “and I thought, ‘[My work] is like origami, but it’s like origami on the inside—I can use this’—you know, I can take something that’s culturally arty in the landscape that people identify with.”
Something like paper cranes, a world symbol for peace that Box explains, once it’s unfolded “you can see how peace was achieved—though choices—and those choices look like a beautiful star.”
His Zen approach can be seen in the collection to be unveiled this Sunday to the public. It’s composed by several of the graceful birds, paper boats, a harras of colorful ponies and a life-sized white bison—a collaboration with Robert Lang, one of the world’s foremost origami artists.
As far as the star analogy, it proves to be a good pickup line as well.
“I met my wife at an opening at the Inn at the Loretto,” Box says with a smile. “I told her about a crane unfolding into a star and how beautiful we were on the inside, and she was like, ‘Oh boy.’”