Devo legend brings art home

Natalie Pillsbury

Local artist and member of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh, exhibits his collection of freakishly altered photographs. The images will be available for viewing at the North Water Street Gallery until Saturday.

Credit: Ben Breier

Credit: Ben Breier

Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, a legend of the Kent and Akron area, left a nostalgic footprint in the form of an art exhibit titled “Beautiful Mutants” at the North Water Street Gallery in Kent.

The exhibit, which will run until Sept. 17, consists of photographs altered to form mirror images. They reflect Mothersbaugh’s experience living with extreme nearsightedness and being legally blind.

In his artist’s statement, Mothersbaugh describes them as “images pulled from a man’s past, then corrected into sickeningly beautiful beings.”

“He (Mothersbaugh) found the photographs in attics, flea markets and garage sales,” said Jeff Ingram, curator of the North Water Street Gallery. “They are genuinely old photographs.”

Because older photographs already convey an eerie sense of the unknown and often of the dead, Mothersbaugh’s manipulations further extend this impression.

The mirrored images appear completely alien and unrecognizable, but this serves as a strange comfort considering the discomfort caused by the photographed face of a dead person.

Mothersbaugh comments in his statement about all people hiding something and how people’s asymmetrical exteriors hide the true content in them.

The images displayed in his exhibit “allow the true tenant of these human faces and figures to be flushed out and viewed without the disguise that we all so expertly hide behind.”

The images are mostly black and white, but a few are touched with color. The original photos were scanned and manipulated using Adobe Photoshop to create the mirrored effect of the final pieces, Ingram said.

The minimal use of color creates an impression of a past time; something that is part of our past but still connected to the present with the slight, conservative use of modern inventions.

“Beautiful Mutants” is a touring exhibit that has traveled the country since 2004. Mothersbaugh has another touring art show titled “Postcard Diaries,” which Ingram hopes to feature in the North Water Street Gallery at some point

Mothersbaugh completed a degree in art from Kent State and was a member of the Akron-based band Devo. He lives in Los Angeles where he composes soundtracks for movies such as Lords of Dogtown and The Life Aquatic.

Although Mothersbaugh had to miss the opening of his Kent exhibit because he got pulled back to do a television show, the exhibit is a homecoming of sorts, Ingram said.

The North Water Street Gallery is located at 257 N. Water St. in Kent.

Contact general assignment reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].