A large spiky red object has been spotted roaming around the Quad, and a peculiar cubic amoeba popped up in downtown Albion the day before. It is Jimmy Kuehnle, Albion College’s artist in residence, and the wanderings, rather than being aimless, are performances of his inflatable sculptures.
“It’s really quite fun,” Kuehnle said.
According to Kuehnle, his inflatable and wearable art serves the purpose of making viewers’ days a little better. The two pieces mentioned above are “Big Red” and “You Wear What I Wear,” just two of more sculptures set to come to campus. Kuehnle has future plans for more performances and inflatable art on campus, even ones that could involve the student body.
“The whole point of art is to get out, engage, and meet people,” Kuehnle said. “I enjoy the various reactions of spectators. I could do two things to make your day better, give every person I see five dollars, or perform.”
He crafts the sculptures out of a fabric similar to parachute material, using a combination of sewing and welding to connect the fabric and then powers his creations like “Big Red” with battery-powered blowers. In the past, Kuehnle has performed at such places as the Aichi Prefectural Museum of art in downtown Nagoya, Japan; Platform, in Vaasa, Finland; and Blue Star Contemporary Art Center in San Antonio, Texas.
See “Wandering Artist” video to watch Kuehnle inflate one of his sculptures.