Jonathan Brand on the ImageBlog

1969 mustang, 2011
Archival inkjet prints on paper, foam core, PVA glue
51 x 74 x 186 inches
Photo credit: Laura DeSantis-Olsson, Courtesy of Martha Otero Gallery

This work begins as 3D drawings on a computer. I utilize a large format printer to translate the digital into the real world as a flat inkjet print. I then cut, fold and glue these numbered and labeled shapes together much like a complicated three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

The title, One Piece at a Time, is a nod to the Johnny Cash song about a Detroit assembly line worker who dreams of someday owning one of the Cadillac’s he assembles and decides to steal one, one piece at a time and reassemble it.
It’s a theme that runs through my life and my current work. I was born in a small working class city in Canada on the border with Michigan. The song points to the Midwest working class mentality that I grew up in and more literally my practice of making one piece of something at a time not always knowing what the sum of these parts will be or how they will interact.

Cars played a pivotal part of my upbringing and the forming of my personal relationships as well as who I am as an artist. My grandfather built the assembly lines that Cash refers to, my uncle and cousins are mechanics, my father and I restored 3 antique vehicles, one of which is the focus of this project.

I later sold this car to pay for a diamond engagement ring. This project became closely linked to my emerging ideals, consuming my focus and is an experience that I continually draw on in my studio practice.

The original car didn't run and I never drove it. The body and interior were completely refinished but not its mechanicals, making the paper version almost as complete as the original. The details of the car are based more on my memory and a few photographs. I no longer have access to the original car and chose not to use a surrogate to measure and get all the details correct. I like when things are slightly off, in the wrong place or missing, just like my memories of the original.