Van Aelst has the keen ability to change the way we look at things in our everyday lives, from masking tape, to apples, chewed gum or old newspapers. With the aid of a sharp object, he turns a discarded cardboard box into a celestial constellation, and an apple into a globe.
In Van Aelst’s world, chromosomes are made from gummy worms, and sharks swim dangerously around a roll of blue painter’s tape. His quirky scenarios personify the objects he photographs, creating movement, action and recontextualization. Often using the supermarket as inspiration, Van Aelst’s photographs also inspire us to relate everyday consumer products with social and political issues in our lives. He has photographed Wonderbread to address the multiple meanings of the term “white bread” in our culture, and Velveeta cheese with German pumpernickel to discuss pan-Atlantic politics.
“The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life — the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existence,” he says.
The New Haven Connecticut based artist is also a photography teacher at area high schools and Quinnipiac University, as well as the weekly illustrator for “The Medium” in New York Times Magazine.
Photos © Kevin Van Aelst