Mobank’s Crossroads location at 125 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri debuts four new large-scale commissioned images this month by artist, Jillian Youngbird and writer, Lucas Wetzel as part of its ongoing Artboards series. Installed on the exterior, double-sided billboards rising above the bank, the Artboards are visible to the public all hours of the day and will remain on view for three months.
The west-facing billboards display images of work by artist, Jillian Youngbird and taken from two different projects. Both pieces were made from recycled materials which Youngbird often utilizes in her work. Jillian said, “In these pieces, I wanted to use reuse [of materials], playfulness, and spontaneity to allow folks to ask questions, then weave their own stories; their own folk tales.” She further explains, “the left billboard is an image taken from a public work I created from recycled materials and placed in Loose Park for passersby to experience an unexpected moment in the park.”
The right billboard is from her series, “A Bear in Kansas City”. Also made from recycled materials, “A Bear in Kansas City” pulls inspiration from Jillian’s study of traditional Cherokee masks often used during performances and dances. Jillian explains, “After building the mask out of recycled, found, and appropriated materials like cardboard and paint samples, I wore it out in the community and “performed”. These performances consisted mostly of me participating in everyday activities like waiting for the bus, looking through books at the bookstore, or having a drink at a bar. These spontaneous and non-invasive performances allowed others to engage with me how they saw fit, whether that was taking a picture, stealing the mask and wearing it themselves, or jumping a skateboard over my head as I sat in an empty parking lot.”
The east-facing billboards display work from writer, Lucas Wetzel’s. Lucas said, “For my Artboard, I wanted to present something that at first appears to be a marketing campaign until the viewer realizes it’s not actually advertising anything, and instead is asking a rather personal, immediate question. It’s easy to say what you would do in someone else’s shoes, but what about our own? What keeps us from doing what we want to do? From being who we want to be? Are these forces external, or do they come from within? To entertain one question is to invite a host of others.”
Wetzel continues, “the backdrop is a panoramic photo I took in 2016 on the Rozarks Trails, designed by community volunteers near the memorial arch in Rosedale, Kansas. It’s a scenic place, but not overly dramatic — in the middle of the city, yet unseen by most. The natural beauty, light and detail are a reminder that the search for self is also reflected in our our outer environments.”
The Artboards are on display thru June, 2017.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City. His articles have appeared in the Lawrence Journal-World, The Kansas City Star, The Pitch and KCUR.org. In 2012, he founded Kawsmouth.com, a literary website featuring contributions from over 60 writers and photographers in the Midwest. From 2014 to 2016, he was a writer at the Charlotte Street Studio Residency program, taking part in gallery shows, readings and collaborative publications. He has degrees in English, Journalism and German from the University of Kansas and The University of Bonn. He currently works as an associate editor at Andrews McMeel Universal, a print and digital media company based in Kansas City.
Folklore and myth are deeply interwoven into Jillian Youngbird’s art process as nature and identity. She uses a deep connection with nature to inform her work through deliberate and discriminatory collection of specimens. This is almost always an important part of the process of her work. Through study of the sometimes overlooked, preciousness of our natural environment, Jillian can then ascribe her personal connections to them through photography, illustration, and sculpture that shape internal and external discourses of the many facets of her identity as well as larger groups with which I feel connected.