“I like to give credit where credit’s due and Frank really was the primary designer who put Wearable Art on the map.” ~Catherine Bergmann, DFAC Curator
Belly Dancers. Girls with ray guns. A model painted in tiger stripes pushed down the catwalk in a cage. Live rats. These are some of the elements Frank Strunk III has delivered to Dunedin Fine Art Center’s Wearable Art scene.
Last time Frank was able to participate in Wearable Art—pre-pandemic—he put forth a collection of head sculptures. Two of them featured live rats inside.
“They were pets of one of the [models],” Frank says, “and they were treated perfectly, and they came out to the song [lyrics] despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage [by Smashing Pumpkins].”
Frank says the rats represented an inner conversation.
“You decide what it is,” he suggests. “Is it self-doubt? Are you questioning your ability? Your intelligence? Your body image? The things that are thrust upon us by our culture and religion and all that other fucking nonsense? It’s our inner dialogue represented by the rat. I’m going to expand on that this year.”
He doesn’t want to beat people over the head with a concept.
“Everyone has their own story, their own puzzle pieces in their head,” he says, “and if I can give you a few missing puzzle pieces and they fit yours that’s cool, if it’s affected you and you made a connection.”
Frank describes his own “richer inner dialogue” dating back to early childhood. He was shy and quiet. Nobody in his family is creative. “I made weird little things when I was a kid,” he says, “but that gets discouraged indirectly by the people you are around.”
“I didn’t really start to make things with curiosity or intent on innovating until I was working construction down here.” That was 27 years ago and at that time, Frank was working mostly with wood and leftover jobsite materials. Now, metal.
To Frank, getting to work with his hands all day is a gift. His knuckles are emblazoned with FIRE and IRON tattoos (to symbolize his sign—Aries—and his medium). Innovation and authenticity, truth and originality are important to him.
“The journey, innovation and discovery are big for me.”
He is working with the idea of a corset that has been cinched together by chain. “The whole thing about metal fashion is to get the mechanical and fluidity of textiles but it’s not.”
Of the runway experience, he says, “It’s an opportunity to examine something in yourself and then here comes the next piece. I hope people are looking closely at the stuff.”
“I try to make my larger conceptual work be more about the human experience. To be able to make stuff from other stuff that’s greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the big reveal.”
Frank’s most recent gallery show featured illuminated sculptures. “It’s some of the coolest shit I’ve ever done.”
This year, we can anticipate a fresh collection of sculptural headpieces at Wearable Art.
“There’s going to be lighted ones.”
Ok Frank. Light us up.
Story by Leslie Joy Ickowitz