Atlanta artists Micah and Whitney Stansell won $100,000 this week in a contest in which artists turned a Tequila Herradura oak barrel into a work of art.
For their piece, titled “Look Inside, 2013,” they created a zoetrope inside the tequila barrel that features a running horse. It’s a tribute to Eadweard Muybridge, the English photographer who was a pioneer in the study of motion.
Red marquee capital letters encircling the outside of the barrel tempt viewers to “LOOK INSIDE.”
The Stansells’ work won $10,000 in a regional Herradura Barrel Art Collection competition in October held at Atlanta’s Mason Murer Fine Art, placing them into the finals held this week in Miami against winners from seven other cities.
The married couple is highly regarded on the Atlanta visual arts scene. Micah was a Museum of the Contemporary Art of Georgia Working Artist Project winner in 2010-11, and he has exhibited with Whitney at Whitespace gallery in Inman Park.
During Flux 2010 in Castleberry Hil, they collaborated on “Between You and Me,” a monumental five-channel video projection that covered the Norfolk Southern Railway Building’s epic facade.
Inspired by the visual and oral history of their families and the places that they have called home, they work in a variety of media, ranging from textiles, sculpture, painting, and drawing to single and multi-channel film and video works and installation.
In their artists statement for the Herradura barrel, they explained:
“Though a 150-pound tequila barrel is not our usual medium, we set about the process of ‘making art’ in our usual way; anthropologically.
“We considered the barrel not just as an aesthetic object, but as a utilitarian one; an object with a particular historical purpose. Here we struck upon the idea to use the inside of the barrel, leaving the outside of the barrel unchanged save for a marquee sign with a simple call to action: ‘look inside.’ It is after all the inside of the barrel — what’s inside — that is important. We’ve created a zoetrope, an early ‘cinema’ device, inside the barrel. The running horse pays homage to Muybridge, a pioneer of the moving image, and the marquee sign and the act of peering into the barrel are a nod to the kinetoscope/mutoscope.
“Early alchemists believed the distilling of ’spirits’ to be magic. In the same way, early cinema devices like the zoetrope were used to conjure spirits and were presented as magical objects. We think there’s still something pretty magical about the inside of our Herradura barrel.”
For more on the artists that competed in the Herradura Barrel Art Collection competition: www.herradurabarrelart.com.