'Boxes Of Death'
Boxes of Death
"The concept for Boxes of Death is quite simple," explains project founder Patrick De Armas. "We give 50 artists blank coffin canvases and they create their art using that canvas. Seems simple enough, but since the coffin is inherently loaded with symbolism, emotions, preconceived notions and a long history, it makes for a challenging task." Artists chosen to participate this year -- the fourth for the project, which has become a sponsored, four-stop traveling exhibit curated by Southern California gallery Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow -- include legendary pro skateboarders Steve Caballero and Jason Jesse and pro snowboarder Jamie Lynn. Scroll on to see some of the pieces from the show.
Pro skateboarding legend (and X Games skateboarding judge) Steve Caballero's coffin, titled "A Look Inside Mickey," uses acrylic paint, India ink and Sharpie pens.
Jason Webber's history on his board helped shape his process. "I've been skateboarding most of my life and it makes us look at the world differently or 'outside of the box,'" he explains. Webber's coffin was a challenge: "Figuring out how to do something you've never done before [was a challenge]. I build motorcycles, not pools."
"[Legendary pro snowboarder and artist] Jamie Lynn is an awesome human being and I am honored he has been a part of the show for three years now," says "Boxes of Death" project founder Patrick De Armas. "He's always a crowd favorite, as well as a personal favorite. Best of all, every year he donates his proceeds to ... a local nonprofit that takes kids snowboarding."
Artist Nick Simich brought his naturally humorous approach to his "Death Surfboards" coffin. When asked about his take on mortality, Simich joked, "I am not necessarily afraid to die, but I am afraid of how I die. I don't want people finding me on the toilet with a half-eaten sub sandwich and the JC Penney catalog opened to the underwear section."
"I am always clear that we have 70 to 80 years on average to do whatever it is we are going to do, and that not one second of that is guaranteed," muses McNett about his inspiration for his interpretation. "We are here, then we are not, but energy is kinetic."
"Everything we know comes from and makes up a universe infinitely bigger than ourselves, and like everything before and to come, we will exist forever in some form within that," says Cotterill. "I find it comforting that even when we're gone and forgotten, our matter continues to make up some part of the universe. My piece is about returning to the great cosmic soup from which we came."
"My initial reaction to the show was simple: In the life of a skateboarder, I related it to going over a death box [the opening to the water filter, under the coping] in an empty swimming pool," Olson shares. "When you didn't make it over, you slammed, and sometimes you didn't walk away so quickly." About this particular piece, he jokes, "I love rap, so I just rapped at it for a couple of weeks, you know, throwing out some words. Then I 'rapped' it in pleather, which I work with all the time, put some letters on it -- a little play on words: R.I.P., Rapped in Pleather. Holla!"
"It's a surfer's crucifix," says Brough, "and I really like religious symbols from Christianity and Catholicism. The cross deals with faith in life and death, so it's mixed with that and the love of surfing, which I will do 'til death. Surf or die 'til death!"
"Being a custom motorcycle painter, I am always being challenged to paint on odd-shaped surfaces," Sonny Boy says. "I named this piece 'Forever Two Wheels,' and to me that is what the 'FTW' means or stands for. ''Til the Wheels Fall Off' is a saying that my father used to always say, and it's a common saying amongst the biker community. So, to sum it up, this piece is simply about the love of motorcycles forever until death."
"It's about protecting things that are sacred to you," explains Jesse. "And when you feel threatened or someone bugs you, you can always reach for the ball peen."
"I was inspired by paper theaters that are three dimensional, that have little paper cutouts that go inside of them, like ballerinas and stuff," says Rassier, co-owner of the famed Black Heart Tattoos. "Kind of along that line, like a diorama almost."
Fun for the whole family
"Most people get [the Boxes of Death project concept] right off the bat," says De Armas. "It seems like a scary topic, but once you see it in person, it is loads of fun. Everyone who comes out to the show ends up smiling and laughing."