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Image: Adam Levey

THE UNDERDOG

Corey Lunn Visual Artist

 

corey lunn
Image: Adam Levey

Inside a tiny brick workspace off SE Belmont Street littered with snowdrifts of shaved foam, Corey Lunn presses his back rigidly against a cement wall and eyes the rolling tape recorder like it’s a coiled rattlesnake. “I’ve never been interviewed before,” he says quietly. “This is weird.” But this is what happens when your first major solo exhibition is also one of the most anticipated shows of the Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival, an annual event put on by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA). The 32-year-old has been creating art—whether intricate drawings or hand-carved sculptures—for a decade, but until recently not many people outside the innermost of the city’s art circles much cared. Now, though, thanks to consistent prodding by Kristan Kennedy, PICA’s visual-art program director, Lunn is finally offering his work to a larger audience—in this case, at least a few thousand of the expected 20,000 or so festival attendees. He’s still grappling with the ramifications of the decision.


“Some artists are resistant to institutionalized artwork,” says Lunn, whose show opens September 4 at the Works at Leftbank. “But I’m very grateful for this. Still, the attention is definitely uncomfortable.”


It’s also warranted. Combining elements of pop fantasy with what Lunn calls his “obsession with the post-apocalypse,” the objects taking shape in his workshop (most made out of high-density urethane board) are flint to the imagination: part Where the Wild Things Are, part The Road Warrior. The slightly ghoulish torso of a character he calls “The Henchman” sits on one end of his workbench; next to him is another, hairier trunk whose face has yet to be chiseled. At the edge of the table, the shell of an ATM stands ready to give way to Lunn’s symbolism—he’s looking for a sleeping bag large enough to entomb it in.


“They’ve become these sort-of social watering holes,” Lunn explains, pointing to the cash machine. “We’re tied to them. I just wish [my account] wasn’t always so empty.” Like his anonymity, the moniker of “starving artist” is something Lunn may soon be leaving behind.—Bart Blasengame