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The Scarlet & Black

Smith Gallery displays Grinnellian collaboration

The focal point of the exhibit was a push-up machine Lacina created. Photo by Sarah Ruiz

Hallela Hinton-Williams

For the past two weeks, Grinnell’s Smith Gallery has been displaying the art of Joe Lacina.

With four pieces guiding the exhibit and providing a preview into his work, Lacina entertains many aesthetics through his art. 

“I’ve been toying with sports art — art that uses imagery from sports and pop culture as a way of leveraging a larger audience,” Lacina said. “I think mainstream movies, football, baseball, those things have larger audiences than niche, DIY art. Kind of bringing those two together, bringing kinetic sculpture and joining it with this sports aesthetic. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m trying to say with that.”

This sports aesthetic is seen in one of his text pieces “Notes for Today’s Practice,” in collaboration with Erik Jarvis.

“That was generated through us playing around-the-world and knock-out and spitballing about ‘coach quotes’ and the absurd things that are said in sporting events or in practice, things said to motivate.”

However, Lacina’s pieces vary from the sports aesthetic into areas such as the normcore and DIY aesthetics. His focal piece, a push-up machine made of plywood and bolts, as well as a found object piece of a ladder with a rotting carrot on top of it demonstrate the idea of degradation.

“There’s a pointing happening in the exhibition to degradation and collapse and the state of nature sort of countering to a lot of our philosophies and dreams and goals,” Lacina said. “I’m interested in these things as monuments or ruins that the sculptures show degradation, the wear of the materials. Letting that happen and even accentuating that makes them seem as if they are pulled from this dystopian future apocalypse.”

Lacina’s work not only can be seen showcased by the College, but in the Grinnell community as well. Raised on his family’s farm in Grinnell, Lacina works in collaboration with the Grinnell Area Arts Council and the Stew. You can also view his art on his website

The focal point of the exhibit was a push-up machine Lacina created.
Photo by Sarah Ruiz
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