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Arts & Entertainment

The Closet Artist

by Jackson Bicknell, staff writer

Urban Dictionary describes a “closet artist” as “Anyone who is involved in any of the arts but will not admit it…” or “literally hides it somewhere and only shows certain people.” My idea of the closet artist at Warren Wilson is more along the lines of a functioning, internally motivated, non-art major student dedicated to making works of art. Starting this issue with sophomore Jay Massey, “The Closet Artist” will become a regular fixture in the Echo.

Jay Massey is an ODL major, but in his spare time he creates intricate wire sculptures that he displays in his room. Photo by Jackson Bicknell

Jay is a sophomore studying Outdoor Leadership with a minor in Environmental Studies. He began using wire as a medium during his senior year of high school.

Standing in Jay’s room is like being immersed in a forest of wire. Jay’s claim to fame is his intricate wire trees of different sizes which are placed throughout the room.

“I sculpted the old oak that everyone climbs at Dogwood,” he said. “I sat there in the freezing cold and got caught in a snowstorm while I was sculpting.”

Jay’s first creation with wire was an Anglerfish that currently hangs from his ceiling. He pointed up at the blue-wired figure. “Its name is Grundle The Fish.”

The structure is about the size of two basketballs. Its gaping mouth serves the functional purpose of holding his car keys.

“I give away a lot of the sculptures I make to friends as gifts,” he said. “But I could never give away Grundle.”

Massey plays with the shadows of his creations. Photo by Jackson Bicknell

Competency in both hands is necessary to work with wire. Jay attributes his developed motor functions primarily to having played the piano for most of his life.

“Using both hands on the piano overtime made me become ambidextrous.” He adds, “[But] my handwriting isn’t that great.”

Some of Jay’s work, like the owl perched by the window, takes several months to complete.

“It is incredibly intricate and tedious work that can take a long time,” Jay said.

These works can be appreciated from a distance as well as up close, tracing the individual wires about the contours of the figure.

He turns off the light and carries his owl over to his bedside wall.

“Their shadows are also art.”

He then turns on his bedside light to reveal the brilliant shadow of a night owl.

Jay does not draw, despite his other artistic talents, but he is an exceptional rock climber and talented accordion player.

“It’s all just practice now,” he said of his wire work. He doesn’t take himself or his art too seriously, but he wants to continue to improve.

“It’s a hobby now,” he said. “Maybe when I’m 30 I will consider it as something more.”


9 Responses to “The Closet Artist”

  1. Thank you for this article. Jay rarely reveals all his interests and abilities.
    Naturally, I am proud of my son’s talents but mostly I am proud of his humble attitude toward his talents.

    Posted by Suzi Massey | February 7, 2013, 6:48 pm
  2. The Shadow Art is very impressive

    Posted by Mark Massey, III | February 7, 2013, 7:22 pm
  3. Well, who knew?? Very impressed Jay!

    Posted by Melody Stevenson | February 7, 2013, 11:00 pm
  4. Very interesting Jay, I enjoyed the article.

    Posted by Leah Liotta | February 9, 2013, 3:55 pm
  5. Jay is talented in many ways. We are very proud of my grandson Jays achievements.

    Posted by AnnMarie Dobson-Szlezak | February 9, 2013, 4:53 pm
  6. Wonderful article Jay! Keep up the good work and maybe at 30 you will become a well known artist.

    Posted by Kate Tangert | February 14, 2013, 7:21 pm
  7. Jay, I love your art work, I find it amazing how when you look at the shadow on the wall you see an owl perfectly, Your work is amazing and I think you should really consider taking your art seriously because it is wonderful

    Posted by Denise Seravalli | February 15, 2013, 2:33 pm
  8. What a wonderful artist my nephew is!Such beautiful pieces of art! Thank you for sharing!

    Posted by Katie Dobson | February 16, 2013, 4:36 am
  9. Amazing work, you have got an incredible talent…. Something that I have never seen before!

    Posted by Debbi Miller | February 17, 2013, 11:08 pm

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