Luke Sides, Texas Sculpture Group
From Oak Point, Texas
Over the past few years I have been dealing with several themes in my work. For the past decade or so my work has almost exclusively been cast in Iron. The material directly correlates with the themes I have been using. My work has dealt with Pigs, Pastries, Peppers and Portraits but most importantly PUNS. I feel my work is greatly influenced by the Funk movement with a little Pop component.
Pigs have been an interest of mine from a very early age. From reading the book Animal Farm and raising Pigs as a child. As a child my brothers and I raised Pigs for FFA. The very first thing that is done with the Pig when it arrives is castration. I was 8 years old when I first witnessed this, and the sound the Pig makes when this happens will never leave my memories. I suppose that this desensitized me and never affected my consumption of this animal’s meat. I have always seen my sculptures of Pigs as self-portraits. The gluttonous nature of Pigs resonates deeply with me. I have eaten myself into a state of obesity and high cholesterol. The combination of these things and a deep family history of heart disease haven’t been enough to curb my appetite. On the other hand, pigs are extremely smart. Pigs are survivors to the point that feral pigs and wild boars have become a real problem for rural communities across the US. Another interesting aspect of the pig is their association with Police. Pig has become a derogatory term for police officers. I have had a distrust of authority figures from a very early age. Casting these Pigs is also very important to me as the type of Iron I use is pig iron which is the All of these aspects make the Pig my spirit animal. I have embraced my shortcomings and work daily to rectify them but I also embrace the tenacity of the Pig and see that as my strongest trait.
Along with Pigs I have a huge appetite for Hostess treats. I consider the holy trinity of snake cakes are the Cupcake, Twinkie and Zinger and have used these in my work for the last decade. What began as an extreme appreciation and blind consumption has turned into a memorialization of these as I have had to swear them off. These have also served as self-portraits. What began as a celebration has turned to a memorialization and decay. I am attempting to show the decay by highlighting areas of the snack cakes by revealing the iron and its propensity to decay juxtaposed to areas that are pristine and colorful that reveal the nature of the snack cakes. It is interesting to me that a snack cake can possibly survive as long as Iron.
Finally, a vegetable (unfortunately I have them on a burger or burrito)! I have developed a taste for Hatch Green (and red) Chiles through my travels in NM. This appreciation has manifested in my artwork with the creation of Chile Dogs. I use the chiles to portray different breeds of dogs. These creations are meant to pay homage to what has been a very special place where I have learned how to cast iron and where I continue to visit to continue this appreciation. Something that caught my interest in Hatch Green Chiles is the fact that it is the leading crop of NM and that it has become so popular that other nations have tried to break into the market. This has made me seek out NM grown Hatch green Chiles every fall in hopes to support a state crop ion a state that is in need of income and jobs. The titles of my dogs usually make some sort of reference to New Mexico.
I am a child of the 80’s and thusly influenced by the pop culture references of this era. Since the inception of moving pictures we have associated some sort of identity with our favorite movies. It is a question asked when people meet to determine compatibility. Some of my favorite movies are Smokey and the Bandit, Rocky, and The Godfather. I was also very interested in wrestling and politics. It seems that in the 70’s and 80’s the popularity of the bad guy started. The villain in some movies became more popular than the heroes. Jackie Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit is an example of this Apollo Creed in Rocky is another. I loved to hate the villain and this is how I select the subjects of my portraits.
Most of my work deals with puns and I like to layer as many as I can. The best example are my pigs. With my Pigs I cast them in pig iron sometimes wrap them in bacon and other pork products and sometimes reference police officers.
My interest in Cinder Blocks began after reading a quote by Louis Kahn, “Even a brick wants to be something.” This really peaked my interest in elevating the Mundane. I began noticing these blocks everywhere in all walks of life. These blocks are all around us and they are used in many ways they hold thing up ultimately and in doing so are always being held down. My blocks seek to break away from this paradigm and attempt to extract themselves from these situations. They take on a figurative quality and tend to be misfit objects in a land of beauty.
I am influenced by Funk and Pop. My subject matter is almost exclusively Popular Culture references. However, I am not satisfied with appropriating these objects as Pop Art did. I however am more in tune with Funk artists and the idea of the homemade readymade along with their use of Puns. As a Sculptor I am also very in materials. I try to use materials that will add to the concept of my work.
Luke Sides has spent the better part of his life eating himself to death. He has consumed enough red meat and pork to clog his arteries to the point of irreversible damage. While eating this food has brought Luke much pleasure and happiness unfortunately Luke must cease and desist the consumption of all things FAT which is Ironic because of his stature…. So, Luke has used food as his main source of inspiration for his sculpture for the past 10 years. What started as adoration for these hedonistic foods has transformed into memorialization but either way these sculptures are a direct reflection of Luke Sides. Oh, Luke Sides received his MFA from the University of North Texas in Denton TX, and has taught full time at Collin College in Plano TX since 2002.