The Art of the Bigger Picture

Apple WorldPhoto:
“Apple World” (2007) – our Earth, the apple of our eye:

All images courtesy of Kevin Van Aelst.

Connecticut-based artist Kevin Van Aelst takes everyday objects – preferably food – and arranges them as still lives. Almost escaping our fleeting glance, something catches our eye last-minute, something that seems off – a shape or material that doesn’t seem to go with the image. By changing the context in which we see everyday objects, Kevin van Aelst makes us question their purpose and our understanding of the world around us.

A drop is a drop is a drop? – “Splash” (2009):

Made of carpet? – A view of the whole installation:


Or, in Van Aelst’s own words:

“My color photographs consist of common artifacts and scenes from everyday life, which have been rearranged, assembled, and constructed into various forms, patterns, and illustrations. The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life—the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existence.”

When describing Van Aelst’s photography, the toughest part might be the selection process, deciding which of his images to feature. This is because all of them are unique and incredibly creative, making viewers want to discover the how and what for themselves, all of it. Like his ingenious “Oreo Yin Yang” (2005), in perfect harmony with itself:

Oreo Yin YangPhoto:

Or take Van Aelst’s fingerprint series for example. These are thumb or index finger impressions created with or on unusual material: pie, yarn, paper and mustard are just some examples.

Spinning some yarn – “Left Index Finger” (2007):
Left Index FingerPhoto:

Isn’t using a typewriter like leaving a fingerprint? – “Right Thumb” (2007):
Right ThumbPhoto:

He mustard up all his courage – “Left Ring Finger” (2007):
Left Ring FingerPhoto:

Showing someone the finger has never been so creative – “Left Middle Finger” (2007):
Left Middle FingerPhoto:

Talking about his own talent, Van Aelst once revealed to his students: “Patience and obsession can be more of a factor for success [than talent]. For example, I can’t draw or sculpt but I can put things together and photograph them.” And that he does really well, or who else would be able to explain the different kinds of clouds with a cup of coffee?

Storm in a, er, coffee mug – “Common Clouds” (2007):
Common CloudsPhoto:

Could you explain “Chromosomes” (2005) in such a sweet way?

Or the “Periodic Table of the Elements” (2005), recreated with Gummi bears?
Periodic Table of ElementsPhoto:

“While the depictions of information–such as an EKG, fingerprint, map or anatomical model–are unconventional, the truth and accuracy to the illustrations are just as valid as more traditional depictions. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas,” describes Van Aelst.

“Beta-Carotene Molecule” (2006) for your next jack-o lantern?
Beta-Carotene MoleculePhoto:

Luckily for the art world and his growing number of fans, Kevin Van Aelst did not pursue a career as a psychologist after receiving his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Cornell University in 2002. He switched to Fine Arts instead and received his MFA from the University of Hartford, Connecticut in 2005. He currently lives and works in New Haven, CT where he teaches and pursues his art. If his pieces look familiar, you might have seen them in publications like the New York Times Magazine, Men’s Health, GQ, Business Week, Fast Company and others.

The artist’s “Slurpee Self”:
Slurpee SelfPhoto:

Oh, and those who’ve always wanted to own art works can do so now with Van Aelst’s pieces: As part of an Artspace fundraiser, he made a portable art show of 28 of his works, complete with magnifying glass, price list and refreshments table. Guaranteed recession-sized. We like it!

Portable art showPhoto:

For more of his photography or to commission a piece, visit Kevin Van Aelst’s website.