Jason Hackenwerth: Weird & Whimsical Balloon Sculptures
(Part Two in an Eight-Part Series on Brilliant and Unusual Artists of the World)
Being an artist, of course, necessitates a certain amount of creativity. There are some artists who are able to constantly surprise with their level of creativity, turning out art that is completely original. New York artist Jason Hackenwerth’s art is so distinctive and unusual that it’s safe to say the world has never seen anything like it.
Jason Hackenwerth creates massive sculptures from colorful latex balloons. The same balloons you might see taking center stage at a child’s birthday party. He spends days twisting and attaching the balloons to create huge creatures that are simultaneously bizarre and wonderful.
The creatures look like a strange cross between sea invertebrates, bugs, and alien monsters. When put into a setting like the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (above), they truly come to life. Their otherworldly anatomy and bright colors make them almost believable as fierce airborne predators.
At first glance, the creatures may appear whimsical or even silly. And they are – but that’s not the whole story. The sculptures begin their lives as jovial, plump celebrations of life. As they age, the trapped air begins to escape. The sculptures that were once full of life begin to sag and droop, reminding us all of the transience of our own lives.
That’s not to say that seeing Jason’s work is depressing. In fact, he sees to it that each installation is full of life and joy. His sculptures are not meant only to hang from the ceiling; they are also wearable. He has made and performed in huge wearable sculptures called Megamites at shows and festivals around the world. Jason’s sculptures bear a surprisingly organic look, so it seems almost logical that they would walk around and interact with people.
Watching the videos on Jason’s website of his balloon creations in action, it’s easy to see why his sculptures have been welcomed in galleries across the country and internationally. He injects fun and playfulness into what he does, and it reflects in the finished product. He could easily take it the other way and highlight the decay of the youthfully rotund creatures. But the message of his art seems to be that life is short, so have fun and be youthful for as long as you can.