Many times, artists would go a step further to explore the meaning of life, to try and understand the meaning of the unknown by distorting the known. Kelley Benes, also known as Beans of John, is creating surreal, disturbingly humourous and unsettlingly relieving sculptures for someone to find in the future and have a laugh. In the works of Benes, mollusks and the human body come together to prompt a horrific chuckle – body parts like eyes, hair and teeth pop out of things they shouldn’t be on.
Whether it is seashells with bloody, gummy teeth, starfish with nails or eggs with eyes and long eyelash extensions, the sculptures of Beans of John are disturbing, but they undeniably provide a comic relief.
Benes has a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She had always been interested in the arts, but during the formative years her vision only extended to 2-dimensional arts. When she learned taxidermy, though, this changed.
The artist started experimenting with three-dimensional sculptures, and even though challenging, the task was oddly fulfilling.
Taking inspiration from nature, its astounding capabilities and the role we play in it, Kelley’s work is a loud series in surrealism, exploring the real, the unreal and how they can collide.
The artist uses mediums that would otherwise be discarded – teeth, shells, hair, nails, food waste and any found objects.
The uncanny sculptures in the series Beans of John look back at us, winking, allowing us to see the absurdity of everything humans leave behind.
From nature and laughably back into it, Beans of John is, in its simplest terms, our invitation to know that our place is in nature, not outside it.
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