Gary Justis

Gary Justis
Bloomington, Illinois, US
April 04
Gary Justis has worked primarily in the area of kinetic sculpture for the last 34 years. He lived and worked in Chicago from 1977 to 1999. He currently resides in Bloomington Illinois, where he teaches and writes stories about his actual experiences. (please take a look at his "Sculpture" link for more info)


Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 12, 2011 8:54AM

The Body's Attainable Limits

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spine 1b
  Grace Phillips, District 12, aluminum, leather.

In universities, Visual Art shares a distinguished place in the area of Fine Arts, where creative research is the proper mission in the amalgam of activities that constantly renew the mind. The products of these creative undertakings continually surprise us with alternative ways of seeing the world. With a vision that is open, wise, and true to the creator’s purpose, a fully sanctioned realm of fancy and function comes into being. We continue recognizing an elusive bridge between mind and matter, with jumbles of energized commissions and products laying out newer and newer options for our gaze. If an observer can enter an exhibition of visual art with few expectations, they may encounter grandeur, and it may be meaningful and lasting.

We mounted an exhibition of the products from two sections of 3-D Fundamentals classes in the School of Art at Illinois State University. The work in this show addresses an assignment titled: The Affected body: from affect to effect and back again.

Students presented their ideas for extending a visual, or functional aspect of the human body through the manufacture of both functional, or fantasy objects. These works are designed to either attach to the body, or in some cases serve as remote prosthetics.


boxing glove 1
Alex Doane, Modern Medieval, 2011, aluminum, leather, plastic, fabric, steel. 


frisbee 1

Matt Seibert, Untitled (device for spinning a Frisbee on your fingertip), wood, aluminum, rubber, Frisbee


Objects that extend, or enhance the normal functions of the body, either physically, or in theory suggests the idea of making survival easier. There is an obvious metaphor present as a subtext in this project when we consider the rise of electronic dependency in the present age. We find an obvious relationship between the powers we gain with technological intervention, and those functional attributes we are willing to give up.


“Every extension of mankind, especially technological extensions, has the effect of amputating or modifying some other extension… The extension of a technology like the automobile "amputates" the need for a highly developed walking culture, which in turn causes cities and countries to develop in different ways. The telephone extends the voice, but also amputates the art of penmanship gained through regular correspondence. These are a few examples, and almost everything we can think of is subject to similar observations…We have become people who regularly praise all extensions, and minimize all amputations.”


 “Understanding Media” by Marshall McLuhan


The amputation in the case of the student’s efforts to explore ideas for this project could most likely be identified as time itself in the six hours (or more) a week devoted to single classes. In an exceedingly natural way, with the breadth of classroom activity, its hours of triumphs and brilliant failures, there are precious historic moments in these class periods that become staunchly minimized with time.

These students are young, begining their difficult, yet illuminating creative journeys. Notwithstanding the minimizing processes of time and memory in classroom after classroom, their unique products remain, and all works in our exhibition are solidly fixed in the world, and undoubtedly praiseworthy.


show 1
Extending the Body, 2011, an exhibition of works by 3-D Fundamentals Students, Illinois State University, School of Art



show 3
Extending the Body, 2011, an exhibition of works by 3-D Fundamentals Students, Illinois State University, School of Art


spring shoes

Rhianna Brown, Untitled (spring shoes), steel, wood. Aluminum, pigment



catapult 1
Robert Taylor, Untitled (back mounted catapult) aluminum, galvanized steel, grommets



catapult 2

Robert Taylor, Untitled (back mounted catapult in performance), aluminum, galvanized steel, grommets



  John Klein, Untitled (wearable outlets), wood, bondo, electrical hardware



back  head

Kelsey Kaiser, Untitled (back plate/w head unit), wood, aluminum, paint



sling 2

Daniel Valencia, Untitled (self-shelf and slingshot), wood, steel, rubber, leather


   sling shot 2

Daniel Valencia, Untitled (self-shelf and slingshot), wood, steel, rubber, leather



thin heart

Hannah Krajewski, Untitled (wearable heart lite), aluminum



horse 1

Erika Paige, Untitled (unicorn as extension), Lucite, aluminum, feathers, paint




Samantha Golden, Untitled (fluid digestive system), aluminum, plumbing hardware, plastic sheeting



work 1a 

Ashley Koenig, Message ME, 2011, aluminum, paper, steel. This work is an explanation of the invasion of texting, and the rebellion of this new media as an extension of the body.



spider hand

Thomas Pekovitch, Untitled (tree frog hand extention), aluminum, leather, fabric, elastic


   hand 2

  Seth Hodel,  Dead to the Law but Alive to God, plastic, steel, aluminum, leather. This body extension is a reverse marionette. The piece will perform in opposition with the users actions. Based on chapter 7 of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul.



hand 1

Seth Hodel,  Dead to the Law but Alive to God, (in performance)plastic, steel, aluminum, leather. 



 Omar Khan, Untitled (wearable conscience), fabric, wood, clay, pigment



  Hair ext

  Olivia Mlakar, Untitled, (metallic hair extension), aluminum. Beads, fabric



para 1

Trevor Dean, Untitled (periscope), Lucite, aluminum, mirrors




Karissa Kotovsky, Brain Activity, 2011, aluminum, fabric, sponge clay  



twin b

Ashlee Fears, Untitled (conjoined twin), plaster, aluminum, elastic


  shoes 2

 Emily Aleshire, Untitled (spiked shoe covers), wood, lucite, pewter, galvanized steel



spike shoes

 Emily Aleshire, Untitled (spiked shoe covers, detail), wood, Lucite, pewter, galvanized steel



sissor cup

Emily Nee, Untitled (variable cup holder), aluminum, fabric, paper cup



wings 2

Danielle Perganson, Untitled (wings), aluminum, down and feathers



wings 1b

Danielle Perganson, Untitled (wings), aluminum, down and feathers



work 1b

Taylor Schuck, Idea Catcher, 2011, aluminum, pigment, fabric



pointer 2b

Lance Savage, Untitled (adjustable, telescoping pointer), wood, lucite, aluminum, leather, fabric



thigh 2

Richard Barnes, Untitled (self-leveling thigh mounted fish bowl), aluminum, glass, bungee cord


thigh 1

Richard Barnes, Untitled (thigh mounted fish bowl demo), aluminum, glass, bungee cord



  final shot




Extending the Body, poster, Illinois State University, School of Art

Exhibition runs December 7-December 17, 2011, hours: Friday, 12-3, Saturday 12-3

Special hours for Wednesday, December 14, 11-6pm

102 West North Street, Normal, Illinois  for information:






Photos by permission of the student artists

Exhibition poster by L.J. Douglas

all photos copyright © 2011 by Gary Justis

Thanks to the City of Normal, Illinois for their generous lease of this exhibition space, to the many generous merchants and members of the Uptown Normal community, to our Mayor of Normal, Chris Koos, who has provided support and encouragement,  to Joe Tulley, Uptown Marketing Manager of Normal, to Professor Tony Crowley, for his management and support of this exciting student exhibition venue, to Tyson Sones for his excellent job installing the new floor of the gallery, to Randy Reid for his valuable construction expertise in the early days of the gallery, to my Colleagues in the School of Art, who consistently support one-another in our many projects, to my dear wife and collaborator, L.J. Douglas, who brings her amazing skill set to bear upon the many seemingly insoluble problems associated with these projects and other creative processes, to Steven Arney, for his friendship,collaborative creative efforts, intelligence,  and wonderful sense of humor, and to the student artists who continually change the way we think about things....


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Cool project!!

Did you see Aimee Mullins wearing Matthew Barney's glass leg prostheses for a dance in his Guggenhiem exhibit? Kind of incredible:
P.S. I meant to add...I keep seeing you comment on Mike's Museum Facebook page. I live in Salem. Mike is beginning to be our art scenester–small world :-)
I love this, Gary, great idea for a project, and creatively realized.
Greenheron, Thanks for the link. I am familiar with this. Also, Mike gave me one of my first museum exhibitions years ago. thanks for reminding me of this great artist/curator.

Hello Kathy, Thanks for the visit and kind comment, they did well.
So fresh, like a spring breeze blowing through a dusty place these young vibrant people and their creations. Each a little revelation about the the person / artist. Thanks for this Gary.
The imaginations of youth.
Thanks Rita, It always amazes me how the students will have ideas that have varying degrees of quality (in my opinion). Some are brilliant, others less so. They are able to take an idea that might seem mundane and turn it into an object that has great visual impact.

Hello also! Thanks for your comment!
I adore the creative angle and what some of the students have interpreted. Though not many are practical they all score high on my whimsy scale. Thanks for sharing the spoils with us.
Buffy, thanks! we tend to throw out practicality in exchange for hilarity.
Thanks for coming by Midwest!
What a lot of fun! I am awed by the imagination and the execution. I think I need one of those pointing hands!
thanks dianaani! I think I need one of those too....maybe I can borrow it!
So cool, Gary! I love the title...and how the Attainable leads to the unattainable end of imagination, like rita said, fresh ~

props to greenheron for that amazing link ~
This is so evocative. I was particularly taken with the very first image, not only because those of us with bad backs could use some help but because it made me appreciate those with "spines of steel."
An awesome exercise in what the mind can develop when it is free to roam. Some of these devices remind me of something out of the TV show "Wild, Wild West" very steam punk. Btw, put me down for a frisbee spinner and a pair it those spring shoes. R
Great project and I really enjoyed seeing all of their creative ideas.

Matt Seibert needs to name his "The Ultimate."

It looks like it would havbe been so fun to work with all of the materials they had available for this project.
Fascinating. Love the tiny details. The spiraly springs on the texting ... the leather and rivets and beading and feathers. So much personal information tied to the mechanics. Love the techniques.
Thanks for putting this together, Gary. I was feeling grumpy when I clicked this open and now I'm not!
One could worry excessively over the loss of much of the analog realm. And then you see a collection like this (and your generous sharing of the exhibit) and apprehensions caused by this revolution in digital connectivity abate for a time. I'm sure McLuhan is looking down favorably in a back plate with head unit.
Spectacular. I think the frisbee-spinning finger may be my favorite.
I'm so glad to see all of you great folks coming over....I am doing final work w my students today, but I will catch up with all of you soon! Thank you for visiting the show!
it just makes me shiver to see the wonderful things that cool, smart young people come up with, art or music or writing or whatever. you have a terrific group of students, and they have a fabulous teacher.
art + science + technology.....Aliquot loves this combo. Great post!
Fascinating artwork Gary. Many are so creative and clearly thought out, while a few look like they handed in something to get the assignment done, and I think even I can tell the difference :-)
Catch, thanks for the visit and reviewing what might be attainable...well, sometimes at least!

Hello Nikki, yes, the first piece is quite strong, as strong as the mind of the maker….they all performed so well on this project, almost none of them having had any experience with these materials. Thanks so much for your visit Nikki.

Trudge, yes, there are influences of Steam-Punk here. Thanks for coming by and perhaps there is a Frisbee spinner in your future!

FusunA, thank you!

Keri, thanks, I will make sure he knows!

Hello Mother…good to see you! I like the hundreds of details as well. Sometimes the hardware innovations make the work more interesting.
I hope you stick around a while!

Chicken, We are a full-service anti-grump department!

Stacey, Good to see you! Analog soothes the restless soul! The bard is no doubt applauding and smiling…

Femme, They always amaze….year after year. They do the work…I am in the business of saying “no”….then they do brilliant things anyway.

Aliquot, Gary loves this comment….thanks!

Kelly, Actually, a few of the works were struggled with. We had so many glorious failures. Thanks for the sweet comment Kelly…

I need me a back-mounted catapult! Then again, I'd probably do some serious damage here.

I like the amputation philosophy as well - something for all of us to bear in mind.

Anyway, wonderful project and stellar images, friend. Congrats on a well-deserved EP!
Gary, what a lot of creativity and hard work went into making these amazing pieces! Judging by the complicated nature of some of the sculptures several weeks at a minimum must have been needed for fabrication in the metal shop. The pointing finger reminded me of the hitchhiking large plywood hand one of my classmates made freshman year, not for a class, but to hitch a ride to Boston by attracting attention along I-95!
Hello Beth, we had little success with the catapult. It was effective in throwing jolly ranchers onto Robert's head. Yes, I think we do lose something when we gain a new power, whether it is through fortune beyond our control, or through artificial means.

Hello John! Thanks for the background on your classmate's version of the pointing finger. This project took 4 weeks and some of them became quite proficient in the use of specialized tools.