ALTON — Alton artist Casey Kasparek sees his work as more than just art — he views it as a conversation between himself and his subject.
Kasparek was approached by longtime friend Jeff Martinovici, owner of the Turnpike agency in La Crosse, Wis., to do three pieces of performance art for the Cargill Animal Nutrition Co. Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 during the World Dairy Expo. This was not just any ordinary piece of artwork; Kasparek was asked to make art using animal feed and its additives.
“A team of four artists was able to create a mural over a four-day period of time,” Kasparek said. “They wanted to know if I could make similar designs during a six- to eight-hour time frame and in front of a live audience. I have a background in street art where you perform in front of people and within a limited time frame. Of course, the challenge was accepted and they sent me some material to practice with about a week in advance.”
Using a sifter, Kasparek was able to separate the feed into different grades to develop texture and details in his design. The colors in the artwork were from high concentrations of additives.
“Everything that was used to design the art is used in some way in the Cargill product,” Kasparek said. “It’s what they use in their feed; however, it would never be that saturated. For example, riboflavin was used to create the yellow color. They provided me with all the materials needed.”
Kasparek was given about a week to work with the material and consider the different shades of color within the feed. Spending 8 to 12 hours preparing for each design, Kasparek worked on his hands and knees to put together three pieces of art that would be showcased over three days at the expo. The first day featured a dairywoman and two calves, the second highlighted the World Dairy Expo’s 2015 logo, Dairy in our DNA; and the third featured a portrait of Cargill’s founder W.W. Cargill to celebrate Cargill’s founder and the company’s 150 years of business.
A television camera was placed over Kasparek’s head to do a time lapse that played on a screen outside the booth in which he worked.
“At the end of the day we grabbed the corners of the white sheet that I made the design on, bundled it in a pile and threw it away,” Kasparek said. “I didn’t see it as artwork thrown away; I saw what I did as a day of enjoyment. I spent a day making the expo visitors happy, pleasing the Cargill Company and enjoying what I love to do. That was the project and the joy was in the challenge and the performance.”
Casey and his wife, Jen (Cline), are new residents in Alton. Jen is a sociology professor at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey.