When 31-year-old Pete Ippel creates art, he aims to "express complex ideas in compelling ways." These complex ideas stem from his background in high-jumping and scientific research. Ippel uses the themes he learned in both pastimes when approaching his work.
"What I learned from my coaches and through my experience is that if you want to improve at something, you make a plan and you execute that plan and you learn as you go," says Ippel, who also chooses to learn from his artistic failures, staying persistent by trying to produce the piece again.
"What I learned from athletics is not everyday is great day."
Ippel approaches his art with this mentality in other ways. If Ippel produces multiple pieces he is unsatisfied with, he will literally combine them in someway to make a piece that he is, finally, satisfied with.
But Ippel has reused objects in his work for other reasons. Throughout Ippel's life, several bank accounts that spanned across the U.S. have been open under his name. So in-comes the piece, "Checkered Past."
"Checkered Past," comprises of a swirling strand of more than a thousand of Ippel's old blank checks that are sewn together at their ends. It hangs by its middle on a wall in his loft and measures about three feet wide and seventeen feet tall.
Ippel's choice to use blanks checks was inspired by the current economic meltdown. It began when he was forced to face the reality of finding that his former Cornell University art school peers became jobless.
Ippel then was motivated to make a statement that although he might be embroiled by the recession, he will resist its overriding effect on his actions.
"It says that I am in control as an artist," says Ippel, after closing the unneeded accounts.
He began and finished it early this year, tearing the checks out of their books and hurling them into the air of his high-ceilinged, sun-lit loft before sewing them together.
The initial idea of sewing two different checks together interested him immediately.
"But to do it another 1,498 times, there's a discipline there because I want to see that piece complete," says Ippel, who was moved by the process.
"I have to say, the initial process was extremely liberating."
And when Ippel looks at "Checkered Past," he sees the transition in his life when he moved into the WAV. "It's a manifestation of consolidation," says Ippel, who has not only consolidated his money, but also his work life, being able to devote far more time to producing art.
"When I made the jump to move to Ventura, I finally got to have ‘my’ time."
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Ippel "gains knowledge by communicating ideas," he says, seeking as much criticism of his work as possible. And he embraces all of it, considering the act of receiving criticism as a learning experience.
Ippel uses his grapple with the sewing machine that he used for 'Checkered Past" as an example. Ippel had continually failed to use the machine without breaking the needle, until he finally resorted to a neighbor's assistance.
After being taught the correct way to handle the machine, Ippel feels that the braking needles lead to this new knowledge. He paraphrases Author and Scientist, Thomas Hartman.
"There’re no failures, only outcomes -- no mistakes, only information," Ippel says.
"If you're open to feedback without judgment, that's knowledge."
Photographs By Alex Dunn