Art@Site Dessa Kirk The Daphne Garden

Dessa Kirk


The Daphne Garden

Northerly Island
These three figurative sculptures of Daphne are all made from scraps of discarded Cadillac cars. One the the themes of this Chicago based artist of Dessa Kirk, is to find hidden beauty in ugliness.
I had long wanted to go to the Northerly island, finally I could make it ... and I loved the sculptures ... and to know that these are made of discarded metal scraps of automobiles ... I liked it even more!
There's these women that have been on the street. You see I went to welding school and the Art Institute of Chicago when I was 18, but I didn't go to high school. When I was supposed to be in high school, I saw these women on the street and their men. When I was 20, I thought I could do that with that van, I thought of these women I saw when I was 14, 15, I'd see these sad women ride around in fancy Cadilacs. They were being sold to acquire the Cadillac's--which were seen as beautiful. Then at the end of the day, they would be hidden inside, and there was beauty hidden inside the beauty. So I bought a Cadillac, and I decided to deconstruct it and reconstruct the beauty.
When I got to Chicago, I cut it apart. Everyday I'd come back from school at the Art Institute and take a little more off of it. I didn't really know what I was doing except that I was deconstructing this notion of beauty. Then I started making this lily. In the language of flowers, the lily stands for strength and vigilance. I reconstructed the Cadillac to reveal the woman inside. I made lilies out of different Cadillacs until at one point I used a blowtorch, I'd go to a junk yard on the south side, or call Triple A. For $100 I could buy a Cadillac. Over a two-year period, I would buy them and blow torch them. I torched them in all different colors. I was only interested in using the late ‘70s models because those were the ones I remembered seeing on the street and I saw people covet these Mack Daddy things.