Nascar fire suit worn by Jimmie Johnson, seven-time NASCAR champion;
monofilament, hardware, and mirrored stainless steel base.
149h x 96w x 96d inches
Private collection of Jimmie Johnson.
1954 highlighted a moment in which man and a sophisticated layering of machines allowed Major Arthur Murray to occupy the abyss of space for a few brief seconds. A key layer to this machine was the altitude suit he wore during that launch to the periphery of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Since the 1950s, the advancement of this engineered personal enclosure made it possible for other industries to learn from and expand these technologies. One of these industries being NASCAR, which comes from a rich history of creative thinkers, who built their own unassuming environments of acceleration to circumnavigate prohibition. Thereafter, NASCAR has become a hallmark of American culture, standing as the proving ground for many pursuers of speed.
Pulling from victorious sources, depicting the constant boundaries pushed by man, the sculpture projects an atmosphere of ingenuity and man’s relentless friction with velocity. In the method of deconstruction, the apparatus of the suit is manipulated and viewed through a new lens that is experienced through the immersive paintings. The reversed-engineered form of the suit evokes future dimensions while paying homage to past forms like Karuta and other combative armor that celebrate the power and heroism of humankind’s innovation. Bold forms and colors found in both the sculpture and paintings generate notions of speed, technology and violence; similar to the work of Italian Futurists, who were known for their dynamism.
Tectonically the language of the piece highlights the friction between man and machine - softness of the highly tailored fabric to the rigid structure of the hardware. It may seem that these forces are at odds, but they are interdependent on one another. Much like the tensile work of Kenneth Snelson, the dualities at play allow the sculpture to capture one moment in time while maintaining the kinetic energy of the piece via the impression of vectors.