“Everybody has a whopper of a tale that they hear from their uncle or their grandpa,” says local artist Matthew Lord.
Along with artist Kent Smith, the two have teamed up for a new Percolator exhibit dedicated to the field of cryptozoology, or mysterious creatures not proven to exist. They call it the SNIPE HUNT, or less simply put, Society of the Never-ending Inquest to Prove Existence and Hopefully Uncover Non-typical Terrestrials.
“We’re celebrating storytelling, the possibility of the unknown, and even that little bit of magic that is still alive in a world that is getting smaller and smaller as more information and truth becomes available to us,” Smith says.
For two months they have crowd-sourced the Lawrence community for stories or accounts of creature sightings and having these witnesses submit a report to SNIPE headquarters as source material for original artwork. Broadening the definition of cryptid to include celebrities or political figures who have legendary reputations, beasts or monsters, the two artists are more interested in the opportunity to explore folklore, and how one story gets passed along by word of mouth, distorting or building upon what’s already out there.
Monsters are by far the most popular submission subject, with people excited to talk about their Sasquatch sighting, or how their brother’s friend’s sister’s boyfriend most certainly saw Nessie. In addition to two large collaborative mixed-media pieces and personal works by both artists based on some of the compiled accounts, Friday's opening reception at the Percolator, 913 Rhode Island Street, will include a campfire where people can share stories to celebrate spoken word and hone in on the oral tradition that is cryptozoology.
“Some of it comes down to how you hear the story that makes it believable or unbelievable,” Smith said. “At the very least, makes it intriguing and fun.”
This exhibit has also led the artists to broaden their own work, translating the heart of the hunt to their art. They scoured encyclopedias, paranormal books and the internet for creatures such as “Blobster” and “Batsquatch” (winged Sasquatch), and loosened the reigns on how they traditionally work as artists.
Matthew Lord’s work is based in humor and pop-culture references, and generally inked in black and white panels. Kent Smith tends to work digitally on more clean, meticulous pieces. To capture the various representations of cryptids, the artists used ink, acrylics, pencil, printmaking and other mediums for installation pieces like audio.
“We embraced that idea of searching or exploring or seeking out these hidden things, so we applied that to our art search as well,” Smith said. “You’ll see a media exploration in this.”
Expect the absurd. Take a step away from serious life happenings and revel in the fact that there are people dedicating time and energy to “uncovering these truths.” Some of which are more abstract like cryptobotany and a mysterious grammar tale. See it to believe it.
The exhibit kicks off from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. during Final Friday. It will feature about 20 pieces, story sharing and beverages provided by a local brewer. The community is encouraged to continue submitting sightings, as the artists plan to evolve the exhibit over time.
“There may or may not be a sighting or two that occurs during the opening,” Smith said. “If everyone keeps their eyes open, there might be some special guests or monster sighting. I think Sasquatch has been seen in the area as of late tromping around.”
Or maybe it’s the cryptid brew talking.