Images Courtesy Kellam Clark and Maggie Manzer. Image of desk originally appeared in Vogue March, 2003.
Move quickly through the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, down the main thoroughfare Eastern Parkway, past a conflicting intermingling of beautiful terraced homes and marred vacant buildings, and you could easily miss a modern cultural landmark. Hidden in plain sight, packed inside a shuffle of industrial architecture, is the wondrous workshop loft space of Kellam Clark and some half dozen other artists and makers who call his whimsical live-in, work-in reliquary, home.
In the process of building his workshop dream home, Clark has developed his unique approach to the projects he undertakes, as well as the philosophy he lives by, “Morph-aesthetic”: a term he coined himself that leverages his own fundamental artistic process—to create that which is both functional and beautiful—to his daily life. Remaining steadfast in his efforts as an artist-cum-fabricator and vice versa, Clark admits, “is a work in progress.” All of his work is created with consideration for a mixture of old world and modern techniques and he prides himself on being able to offer a lifetime warranty on everything he makes.
Last week, Clark was awarded for his involvement with The Worms, the winner of Storefront’s StreetFest international competition to re-envision temporary outdoor structures, by Storefront for Art and Architecture, the New Museum, and the NYC Department of Transportation.
The Worms’ are modular accordion forms, skinned in bright, lightweight, waterproof rip-stop nylon that is patterned and reinforced to provide flexibility in use and singularity in shape. Each modular unit is 10 feet in height and 20 feet in length. These units can be combined in an infinite number of different configurations, generating important gathering spots and orientation points within the crowded context of a public event. Moreover, the effect of their bright, vaulted forms is surprising and joyful from both street level and above. “The Worms” take the most functional aspects of the typical street fair tent and advance them, making the result more adaptable, sculptural, and interactive, accommodating a wider and more engaging variety of programs. Built from common and inexpensive materials, these new tent typologies are designed to be as efficient in cost and assembly as the ubiquitous white farmer’s market tent, while catalyzing activities and events not typically found in street festivals.
Clark worked with New York City-based designers, providing access to his property and subsequent assets to facilitate production of The Worms.
Motherboard took a tour of Clark’s ever-evolving, 4000 square foot apartment and attached 3000 square foot junkyard, caught a glimpse into his life and career as an artist (and handyman) learned more about Morph-aethetic, and the gumption it takes to thrive in a world of his own unique design.