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Artist Ben Warwas visits CSU-Pueblo

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Keds designed by artist Ben Warwas
Keds designed by artist Ben Warwas

Ben Warwas, an up and coming artist of film, fashion, architecture and sculpture, presented his work to students and the public Friday in the art and music building at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Warwas is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He has worked in a variety of mediums including film, fashion, architecture and sculpture, focusing on each individual project and what suits it best.

Warwas took an interest in designing outfits for events, his family and friends, and even bands on tour where he wanted to move the audio experience into a visual realm. His most well-known work was for bands such as The Locusts, Le Tigre and Barr.

He started with the bands in 2002, touring for five years with The Locusts and designing outfits for them. He has designed five distinctly different outfits for the band, fixated on an insect-like, fearing presence.

“I am a big fan of a strangeness sort of fear,” Warwas said. “I was trying to encompass that sort of atmosphere.”

The Locusts have been featured in magazines such as Spin, Paper, CMJ Monthly and Alternative Press. They were also featured on MTV Skate TV in the clothing Warwas designed.

Warwas also created outfits for Le Tigre’s most recent tour in 2005. The band was featured on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” wearing his designs. They told him they wanted to emphasize the color pink in a feminist presence.

“The outfits for Le Tigre were an attempt to create a wearable visual representation of a feminist parade,” Warwas said.

Warwas was given an exciting opportunity when Keds, the American brand of plimsoll-style canvas shoes with rubber soles, offered him a chance to design their shoes. He created two different designs inspired by his artistic interest in geometric patterns.

“I didn’t want people to recognize they were classic shoes. I like the collage part of it,” Warwas said. “And it makes it look more complex than it really is.”

His architectural skills have been showcased in his furniture designs and his 3D modeling sculpture shows.

A CSU-Pueblo press release described his sculptures as reminding the viewer that “walls do not necessarily delineate interior space. The graphic murals he paints bend the walls into alternate realities of false depth and infinite patterns. Each work becomes a kind of foreign object that questions its environment.”

One of Warwas’ biggest architectural projects was designing an apartment building in Los Angeles, California.

“One thing I like to do is push designs off the edge, and taking the same thing and seeing how far it stretches. It’s an attempt to create something that isn’t actually there,” Warwas said.

In his experimental shorts, he questions reality and the accepted tropes of storytelling through unconventional editing and sequencing. He has exhibited at the Torrence Art Museum, Pepein Moore Gallery and in On The Road installations.

Warwas’s creations can be seen on his website at byben.com, and he can also be found on Facebook.