Every year ARTsmart selects an artist who is distinguished not only in New Mexico, but also throughout the world. As part of his/her mission, the Honorary Artist works with Santa Fe high school students in creating artworks that are auctioned during ARTsmart’s Annual Dinner & Auction fundraiser. Proceeds from the sold works are split between the student artists and, after expenses, their high school. This program connects students with their community while teaching them about the possibility of a career in art.
Honorary Artist, 2020
Kevin Box was conceived in New Mexico, born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Oklahoma and received his higher education in Georgia, New York City and Texas. He now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Jennifer. Throughout high school Box studied graphic arts and apprenticed summers at an Uncles design firm in Atlanta Georgia. It was in there that Box’s passion for creativity was developed, where he formed his relationship with design and with paper.
Box received a four year scholarship to study graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Following his junior year, an Art History grant took him to Greece, an experience that forever changed him, “I realized that all of my graphic design work was ending up in the landfill as trash and I discovered the durability of the conversation that continues through the history of art and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Changing his major to fine art he focused on sculpture and art in public places because in his mind “printmaking didn’t fit the challenge.” After graduating with a BFA, he left paper behind and began working in an Atlanta and Austin, TX. He attained an exhaustive knowledge of the casting techniques and fabricating processes necessary to create durable works of art and his dedication helped him manage and build one of the largest fine art foundries in Texas and Box used that opportunity to develop his own voice. Ignited with inspiration, a full service studio to work in, and a treasure trove of paper found in the warehouse of an old print shop the foundry was renting, he started working with paper again. “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.”
From the beginning, Box’s work received recognition from other artists and collectors alike. His unique style married paper with the age old tradition of bronze casting and refreshed audiences. In 2004, he was elected as the youngest member of the National Sculptors Guild and was recognized by Southwest Art Magazine as one of the top 21 artists under 31 in the southwest. Box exhibited throughout the country on a vigorous schedule of festival shows that provided him with valuable feedback and direct communication to thousands of connoisseurs and collectors.
“My work celebrates the delicate nature of paper in museum quality metal sculpture. The passion I have for paper, the ideas, philosophy and history it has captured for centuries, continued to inspire me when I transitioned into sculpture. While most of my peers were sculpting in clay and casting it into dark, heavy metal objects, I was inspired to do something different. By experimenting directly with paper and wax and working in a lost wax foundry for several years, I developed a process specifically for paper that captures all of its intimate details. The technique took me two years of tireless experimentation in Austin, Texas to develop and seven years of further development with a foundry in Thailand to perfect.
I still begin every piece with a blank page and manage it through the 35-step, 12+ week process of casting with the help of fine art foundry and fabrication teams. Pieces are cast in bronze, aluminum or stainless steel depending on the design requirements. The results are unique or limited-edition sculptures, forged by hand and completed with finishes that return to the look of paper.
Collaboration is a key component in my process. Not only do I work with skilled technicians and engineers who help make the pieces in metal but I often begin my work in collaboration with some of the worlds most talented paper folders known as origami artists. Like a musician, I have found that collaboration magnifies my initial ideas into realized masterworks of paper folding. It is the work we have created together. It is designed to withstand the test of time, as well as touch. Please touch; I invite you to explore the work in its physical form. Be touched; I invite you to discover the meaning of the work, the stories and ideas beneath its surface.
To me, the single uncut piece of paper symbolizes the ultimate origin. It is the blank page, the starting point from which every creative challenge must begin. Whether you’re a mathematician, musician, writer or artist, through trial, error and perseverance, we hope to make something wonderful out of nothing. That is where all my work begins and this beginning is as much a part of the work as the ending.
Origami animals, paper airplanes, crumpled ideas and innovative abstraction are all themes that inform the surface of my work. Every piece has a title, a reason, and a purpose in contributing to the story I am telling beneath the surface. Motivating the content of the work are my concepts of truth, my philosophy of chaos and consciousness, creation and evolution, the process of creativity and our relationships and responsibilities to one another.” ~Kevin Box
Students under the mentorship of Kevin Box and Capital High School art teacher Melissa Smith have created embellished metal and stone sculptures of folded paper origami cranes. The original paper cranes the students designed were then unfolded and placed in shadow boxes to show the intricate lines that mark the journey of the origami folding. The finished artwork will be auctioned during ARTsmart’s Annual Dinner & Auction fundraiser on April 4, 2020. Proceeds from the sold works will be split between the student artists and, after expenses, their high school.