Growing up on Cape Cod, Keith MacLelland’s work has been informed by the rich histories of lobster, commercial fishing, and aquaculture industries in New England.
His latest series explores how the much-prized beach trophies, humble buoys serve as territorial guardians. They battle the often extreme elements of the open ocean: tumultuous waves, high winds, hurricanes, rain and snow. Buoys stand steadfast as trusted sentries marking and guiding lobstermen back to the bounty that is their livelihood.
MacLelland’s mixed media studio practice is eco-conscious and incorporates the colorful scraps of everyday. The buoys are constructed from discarded ephemera: cereal boxes, flooring remnants, leftover gift wrap, and found objects discovered during his frequent beachcombing. MacLelland’s palette is dominated by saturated colors that echo the brightly painted buoys that bob atop the ebb and flow of ocean waves.
The cultural source of Keith MacLelland’s work are Hollywood’s heroic singing cowboys of the 1950’s, The cowboys that he creates have all the magical showmanship of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. They are happy and fun-loving, with the strength and energy to be fierce when necessary. They can turn in an instant to become powerful, robust, and monstrous. However, these are contemporary heroes who, unlike their 50‘s counterparts, must be larger than larger than life. They are up against even more diabolical enemies like the Boston Marathon bombers, school shooters, violent offenders on our streets and in our psyches. They can no longer simply be romanticized 1950’s sing-a-long cowboys. They must be sentries, guardians, superheroes – monster cowboys.
These contemporary cowboys are street and eco-conscious and are built from everyday discards - scratch tickets, cracker boxes, juice cartons, business cards, candy wrappers, and junk mail. The color palette is dominated by primary colors, echoing the innocence and purity of the singing cowboy while speaking to today’s technologically amped–up audience. As a nod to the costuming of the 50’s era icon, the works are often embellished with brightly colored pieces and elements such as rhinestones, glitter and silver studs – an equally contemporary fashion consciousness.
Iconic influences vary from Kachina dolls and Luche Libre, to the Tournament of Roses Parade, Mardi Gras, He-Man, GI Joe and the Banana Splits, as well WWF stars of the late 1980’s such as Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Mr. T, and Bam Bam Bigelow. Contemporary artistic influences include Nick Cave, AJ Fosik, Mark Todd, Erik Mark Sandberg, and Takashi Murikami.