When you pour your thoughts and feelings into your art, putting it on display is like standing naked before a crowd.
“You’re not covering up anything at all,” Kevin Moll said.
Moll is a Baraboo metal sculptor whose work is on display at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County gallery. His exhibit, “Trespassing isn’t always TRESPASSING,” will remain at the Schwalbach Gallery through Dec. 20. It features pieces inspired by Oscar Wilde quotes, a “Star Trek” episode and Moll’s devotion to progressive politics.
His goal is to provoke thought. “Things are said that I think people need to hear and see over and over again,” he said.
One piece features sheets of metal depicting an American flag torn in two, representing the nation’s political divide. “I hope that someday I can say it’s gotten stitched up and people work together,” Moll said.
Another piece helped Moll, a retired art teacher, vent his frustration with Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to erode public workers’ ability to collectively bargain. Inspired by song lyrics, it reads, “If you want to play the butcher, I will not play the lamb.”
Other pieces spell out quotations, including Moll’s own aphorisms -- “Life journeys always contain mountains of our own selection.” Also featured are whimsical pieces, such as one featuring the horta, a subterranean creature from the original “Star Trek” television series.
Letha Kelsey, who teaches art on campus, said Moll’s work appeals because it covers a broad spectrum, from politics to popular culture. But what impresses her most is Moll's artistic process. “It’s fascinating to see an artist transform such a sturdy material into something so delicate – the metal becomes almost like lacework or knitting,” Kelsey said. “I like the tension that comes out of that – makes for an interesting show.”
Moll picks up metal wherever he can find it, from scrap yards to roadside ditches. “I might do a bit of dumpster diving, if I see something,” he admitted.
He welds together pieces of metal, glass and aluminum using foundry equipment he operates at a studio between Merrimac and Prairie du Sac.
The piece for which the exhibit is named resulted from a wayward bike tour that ended up inside Badger Army Ammunition Plant, where an administrator insisted Moll be cited for trespassing. Moll said he had merely gotten lost and decided the only way to safety was through the former munitions plant. He fought the citation in court and ended up paying a reduced fine. If only the Army had heeded Wilde’s words, immortalized in one of Moll’s sculptures: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”