Primitive art and mid-century modern design is what inspires Joe Slack’s figurative abstract steel sculptures. The Oklahoma City artist intuitively works 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 his titles, and Slack encourages viewers to find their own meaning when it comes to his art.
“Strengthening The Voids”, powder coated steel, 2017
“I want people to walk away with their own perspective on the work,” explains Slack. “Once you create it and put it out there, you can’t control what people think. I want them to see their version of my piece. And I hope people walk away a littler happier than before they saw it.”
Slack attended art school at Oklahoma City University and began his sculpting career with wood, a material he’d been drawn to since he was a kid building skateboard ramps in his backyard. Woodworking was his primary medium for several years after college, but once he discovered the magnitude and the permanence of steel, he shifted his vision.
Infant Crisis Services Center Commission, powder coated steel, 2009
“I like that with steel you can work on a monumental scale,” says Slack. “I like seeing people walk up to a piece and look up.” Steel allowed Slack to think bigger, which has landed him quite a few public art opportunities Even though the bulk of his pieces are monumental, Slack works in a range of sizes from four-inch “Micro-Mini” to pieces that stand up to 20 feet high or span 660 feet.