Cars played a pivotal role in Canadian-born artist Jonathan Brand’s youth. He grew up on the border with Michigan, where his grandfather built assembly lines for the auto industry. Several of his uncles and cousins are mechanics. In addition, Brand and his father restored three antique vehicles together, one of them a 1969 Ford Mustang that belonged to the artist.
Restoring the Mustang during his college years presented a tough challenge: the artist wanted to propose to his girlfriend, now wife, and was in need of funds for the diamond ring and the wedding, which prompted the sale of the car. However, the Mustang’s memory lingered on, and in 2010 Brand decided to re-create the vehicle full-size from his recollections and photographs. The title of the exhibition, One Piece at a Time, pays homage to Johnny Cash’s song about a car assembly line worker’s fantasy of owning a Cadillac by removing one auto part at a time, stashed in his lunch box, and assembling it at home. Similarly, Brand re-created his car one piece at a time. Only in his case, the parts were drawn flat with computer software, printed on paper, folded and glued together. The intention was to hold onto the experience of re-making and restoring, resulting in a car made by memory where most of the details are similar, but not accurate; hence the end result is not a precise replica. The work in this exhibition does not immediately reveal it is made of paper or divulge its inaccuracies: “I like my projects to unravel slowly and reward the viewer for looking closely,” explains the artist.
Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, Curator.