About Ball is Life

 Photograph courtesy of  Summer House Films

Photograph courtesy of Summer House Films


Ball is Life: Americana & Interdependency (iAmericana)

by Justin Rodier


The Royals are the reigning World Series Champions. Kansas City, a perpetual underdog, is still riding the high. Tension with Joe is palpable as I tag along to a baseball game. Joe is a conservative man, who often feels betrayed and confused by his progressive son’s involvement in the arts, and this  tension, which was pushed to a breaking point during the 2016 elections.

Joe is agitated by the gridlock traffic in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium. He awkwardly suggests we open a couple beers, and our reality begins to break down. As we creep past a boisterous row of ragtag busses flying battle standards, its passengers dressed in war paint, the scene feels like a prequel to Mad Max, with society on the verge of a tailspin. We settle in the fringes between rowdy clans tossing sandbags and beers. My father accidentally melts a divot in the asphalt with hot coals. In this space I watch a stoic John Wayne open up. I post a video of the smoldering divot to Instagram but Joe isn't suspicious. For a few hours, dressed in matching Royals blue, we’re on the same team. The ability for a simple ball of cork, wool, twine, and leather to fracture our reality and bring us together, at whatever superficial level, felt powerful and inspired my current project, Ball is Life.

The cornerstone of this diplomatic bridge across the domestic culture gap was laid when I merged a hibiscus to a football helmet, creating a new Americana. This work echoed the feel of Kansas City, humble, funky, suburban, and well-humored. The piece is a playful manifestation of a post-apocalyptic world bursting with consumer refuse, a posipocalyptic world where society as we know it crumbled, but we handled it well. There, we live in a new iAmericana, a postmodern utopia; a calm, mindful reflection of the lively cacophony we found ourselves woven into. 

Scrolling through images of Ball is Life Joe says “what’s to stop someone from making their own?” Joe was engaged. The idea that the art may replicate itself through lay viewers engaging the familiar ”I could do that” critique struck me as particularly interesting. The work could become revolutionary, like a blue print for a gateway to any viewer’s own creativity. I imagined this parking lot full of ”good old boys” gingerly caring for their own little plant sculptures; it was nice. Like a bee collecting nectar for its hive and inadvertently pollinating a flower, Joe and this Road Warrior utopia inspired me, and these bizarre, disjointed connections bind me to my iAmericana.