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Dustyn Bork talks abstract art and architecture

photo credit: Lyon College

Dustyn Bork, an associate professor of art whose focus is on abstract works, explored architecture through the “essential elements” of shape, space, and color during a recent faculty colloquium titled “Defining Transience and Permanence in Visual Forms.”

Bork said a common misconception of abstract art is that it “isn’t about anything.” He explained that abstract art is similar to an abstract of a paper in that it is a summation of many details boiled down to their simplest form.

The artist recalled how growing up in the so-called “Rust Belt”—the area of the U.S. hit hardest by the decline of manufacturing jobs since the 1980s—served as a strong formative influence.

“I think it’s interesting that architecture casts a long shadow over history; some buildings we preserve and others don’t have that same quality of standing the test of time,” he said.

Bork finds inspiration in old buildings with weathered surfaces, where he can uncover the “beauty in the decay.” He also uses building materials in much of his art—most of his works are on wooden panels or two-by-fours, and he often utilizes paint rollers and painter’s tape.

Bork also relies on color, for which he has a strong affinity, to convey meaning and emotion. He is drawn to “bold color and [is] always thinking about ways of pushing it” and especially enjoys the “psychological and emotional effects” color has on people.

McKinley Streett, a senior art and anthropology double major, said her favorite part of the talk was the extent Bork was willing to go to “make his own pink insulation foam for an art installation instead of just buying some like he said he could have … I think the decision to go down a longer complicated path to produce something instead of the easiest path is a huge part of the spirit of being an artist.”

Streett concluded, “I think more interdisciplinary discussions between fine-arts focused and non-fine-arts focused intellectuals will help bridge the gap I believe exists and get others to see the theoretical value of art in terms of social, cultural, and political discussions.”