If you visit the Student Union basement sometime before Nov. 21, you may feel as if you have stepped into a bizarro-world discount store. In a way, you have, thanks to Bob Snead, a visiting artist from New Orleans who directed OSU students and members of the Stillwater community to connect with their “inner branding” and create an almost literal big box store.
Snead created this “Family Dollar General Tree” idea shortly after he moved to New Orleans in 2010. The exhibit in the Student Union basement is comprised of work from OSU students and Stillwater residents, produced through a series of building workshops led by Snead during the last week of October.
“Everything that’s here was produced during those three days,” Snead says, “with the goal of at least getting the spirit of the project out there.”
Associate professor of art Angie Piehl invited Snead to Stillwater after the two met in New Orleans, where she had an exhibition at an art center he runs. He quickly accepted and after a year of aligning schedules, landed in Stillwater late in October.
His visit began with a series of building workshops at Stillwater’s Multi-Arts Center and continued with a lecture delivered at the Gardiner Gallery inside Bartlett Hall. On Friday, Oct. 31, Snead entertained Halloween-costumed onlookers during a reception to launch the exhibition.
“Family Dollar General Tree” evolved as an idea when Snead became obsessed with all of the corporate branding that dominated his moving boxes. With several of the dollar store chains in his neighborhood, Snead found a healthy supply of cardboard refuse, which he used to create meticulously handcrafted versions of the original products. In 2011 he collaborated with another artist to build an entire store packed with these creations.
“The one thing with this project that is really important for me is that everything is handcrafted,” Snead says. “Rather than it being digitally cut or computerized production, it is important is has the feel of being handmade, just because I think that is often lost in the big box store.”
Additionally, Snead feels this project says something about how we interact with the big box stores.
“Big box stores have this display of infinite resources so by using the waste from these products, I’m thinking about how there is a finite amount of the things we consume.”
The exhibition in the Student Union basement runs through Nov. 21.