Sculpture artist Joe Slack makes a big impression with his alluring creations — and we mean big. Towering abstract figures, some 20 feet tall, are displayed in public spaces throughout Oklahoma City, Norman and Edmond. His “Birds Watching OKC Lightning Thunder Dance Party” stretches across two city blocks, from NW 7th to 9th along Classen Boulevard. The 110 dancers and 36 birds in vibrant shades of turquoise and yellow are hard to miss.
“Initially, I started out in wood sculpture that evolved into metal,” Slack said. “Metal has allowed me to explore much larger sculpture concepts and public art installations.”
Slack studied at Oklahoma City University, where he realized he wanted to be a sculptor. His work soon evolved from utilitarian pieces, like skateboard ramps, to more abstract sculptures. Today, the OCU campus houses one of his works: a corten steel curiosity called “Puzzled” with mirroring head-like figures.
“Primitive art and mid-century modern design are what inspire my figurative abstract steel sculptures,” Slack said. “I intuitively work with simplified forms and repetitive patterns influenced by human observation and the effects of positive and negative space. Tongue-in-cheek sentiments often find their way into my titles.”
A bronze sculpture with an extra-long arm reaching out is named “Put Er There.” Another showing a midsection filled with a topsy-turvy squiggle is called “Intestinal Fortitude.”
Aside from his catchy titles, Slack encourages viewers to find their own meaning in his public art displays, with locations listed at www.joeslack.com. His art can also be viewed at Slack Industries Intergalactic HQ (his downtown OKC studio) at 1401 NW 5th St., JRB Art at the Elms in the Paseo Arts District and on Instagram @JoeSlack101.
Slack says the most rewarding aspect of being an artist is that “creative high of finishing a sculpture that supersedes your initial expectations — surprising yourself and getting to share it.”
While many of his works are on public display, the drive behind them is quite personal. Like so many artists, Slack says he has a compulsion to create.
“I get a little grumpy if I go a few days without arting,” Slack admitted.