An Axe By Any Other Name

What happens when a group of School of Visual Arts MFA Designer as Author students are given brand spanking new Fender Squire electric guitars? They take them apart and screw by screw, make them into torsos, torture racks, TV dinners and butterflies, among other things. And they link them to charities supported by specific rock stars. This is the class of Kevin O’Callaghan that makes everyday things into monumental extravaganzas. (See more on April 20.)

The projects and charities are, respectively, from top to bottom:

Designer: Adam Katz / Charity: New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund

For my charity, the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, I created a mardi gras second line umbrella. The umbrella is symbolic of New Orleans in that it is used during Second Line funeral marches as well as carried for Mardi Gras. It is deeply rooted in the tradition and heritage of New Orleans just as the musicians my charity supports are as well. The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund supports musicians who are still displaced from Hurricane Katrina and the flood. The charity donates instruments, gets gigs and provides grants to these musicians who still lack adequate housing, essentials and have lost the life that they knew prior to the disaster. My guitar is for the pianist and jazz musician Dr. John who supports the charity and hails from New Orleans.

Designer: Albert Pereta / Charity: The Surfriders Foundation

A non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide. I’m coming from Barcelona, A great city and a symbol of the Mediterranean culture. I grow up surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and I know how important it is, to keep them clean and to care about the sea. Surf Riders have many initiatives to protect the ocean and beaches and their philosophy matches perfectly with my love for the ocean.

Designer:  Camille McMorrow / Charity: Oceana

According to the UN, the world’s oceans could be devoid of fish in 40 years if we do not change course. Oceans are polluted and overfishing is rampant. Oceana is the largest international foundation focused on ocean conservation. My guitar piece, Ghost Fish, is a symbol of what we must avoid: when a fish on a line is a ghost from our past. To create it, I used guitar parts, guitar picks, and fishing gear.

Designer: Derek Munn / Charity: American Cancer Society

My guitar is in support of the American Cancer Society. Having watched my own mother succumb to cancer 10 years ago, I have seen the affects the illness and treatments have on the human body.  By showing a guitar withering away, I hope to raise awareness of the struggle a patient goes through, even if they do not survive. And even in the case of survival, there is normally a physical cost. As a sign of hope, despite the fatigue, this guitar is still a beautiful, functioning instrument. Strung with the thinnest strings available, this guitar sings with a light, if not at times haunting, voice of it’s painful past.

Designer:  Elisa Bates / Charity: Save the Children

Save the Children works in poverty-stricken communities around the world to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve lasting change in the lives of these children in many different areas. My personal interest in Save the Children lies in two areas. The first is that I’m interested in focusing on children’s needs because children aren’t able to help themselves and are the most vulnerable to the effects of poverty. The other interest has to do with my mother, who passed away from cancer about a year and half ago, and who’s career was in elementary education (mostly as an elementary school principal). Her life’s work was about teaching children and affecting their lives in a variety of ways, and I was interested in honoring her. With my “chalkboard guitar” idea, I focused on the education aspect of what Save the Children does.

Designer: Elliott Walker / Charity: Land Stewardship Project

The Land Stewardship Project is a nonprot organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities. There mission is to help secure a healthful food supply; preserve soil, water and wildlife; support diversied, protable family-sized farms; organize communities for positive change; hold corporations and government accountable; and create a new sustainable vision for our food and agriculture system. I believe strongly in the need for sustainable, small, and diversied farm communities. It is critical that we move away from our current petroleum-dependent means of farming and nd a way back to healthier, more sustainable methods.

Designer: Michael Croxton / Charity: Invisible Children

Invisible Children works in the war torn country of Uganda. There children are stolen and forced to become soldiers as young as 3 years old. Invisible Children tells stories. They  tell  the stories of Ugandan children, raise money for educational scholarships for them and lobby in Washington DC for aid in Uganda. My goal was to tell the story of the Invisible Children organization in an effort to raise awareness about their efforts and about the atrocities occurring daily in Uganda. It is a story many are not aware of. Because of this I chose to turn the guitar into a shadow box, subtle and unassuming, but with a powerful story to tell. On the inside of the box there is an image of a child soldier in Uganda. I used donated (by Invisible Children) bracelets, hand made by Ugandans in refugee camps, that are used to raise money for Invisible Children, on the outside of the guitar as frets.

Designer: Jesse Yuan / Foundation: Feeding America

With the high unemployment rate, many households are having to choose between paying for utilities, mortgage, medical bills, and food. Of these household, there’s over 16 million children in struggling with hunger. To help those in need, Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans (46% increase from 25 million back in 2006). Of these clients, 14 million were children from low-income family (an increase of 50% since 2006).  The concept of this Guitar Project is to create a symbol representing Feeding America’s mission, keying in on child hunger and the organization’s existing Kids Cafe Program—a program that’s been providing free nutritious meals and snacks through a variety of community locations where children already congregate (i.e.Boys & Girls Clubs, churches or public schools) since 1993. Hopefully, in the right hands of a musician, the guitar can bring more awareness to keep the Kids Cafe going.

Designer: Joanna Kuczek / Charity: Raising Malawi

HIV/AIDS has had a particularly devastating impact on children in Malawi, Africa the fourth poorest country in the world. A 2008 UNAIDS report estimated 640,000 children are orphaned because they’ve lost both parents to the disease. Raising Malawi is founded in the spirit of Ubuntu, an African philosophy that acknowledges the common bond between all people. There is a saying in Ubuntu: “I am because we are.” Translated simply, it means, “Without you there is no me. Your fate is mine.” My goal was to create a symbol for every child effected by this epidemic, in the image of a butterfly- beautiful, fragile, and longing to be free, with the message of Ubuntu on the inside “ I am because we are.” This is an interactive pieces, when closed it looks like a Map of Africa, indicating the location of Malawi through the positioning of the guitar tone & volume knobs. When opened it becomes a butterfly.

Designer: Katie Estes / Foundation: Keep a Breast Foundation

To support the Keep a Breast Foundation and their Music For Awareness campaign by joining them in the celebration of boobies.

Designer: Leen Sadder / Charity: Adopt-a-Minefield

The charity I chose was Adopt-a-Minefield. I decided to go for a sculptural interpretation of a guitar as it blows up, using wire to suspend pieces of wood and metal from the central explosion to simulate a landmine explosion. Pieces of shrapnel and debris surround the guitar either stuck in the grass or melted onto it.

Designer: Maya Lee / Charity: World Wide Fund for Nature

My guitar’s intention is to support and promote the World Wide Fund for Nature’s mission to halt and reverse the degradation of the environment. The direction of the ax was chosen to increase awareness about deforestation and highlight the destruction we have caused. The UN has declared 2011 the Year of the Forests and I hope this will bring more attention to forests which have been at the heart of this international organization and charity.

Designer: Melissa Gorman / Charity: National Wildlife Foundation (specifically the Gulf oil spill disaster)

I chose the Gulf oil spill as my point of focus within the National Wildlife Foundation. This organization supports many issues pertaining to wildlife refuge, conservation, and protection, but are one of the only major orgs still heavily focused on efforts to rebuild habitat and help wildlife specifically affected by the spill. My project will highlight this disaster by using the guitar as an example of what happened to the habitat of many species in this area.

Designer: Sebastian  Ebarb / Foundation: The Rain Forest Foundation

Mission statement: More and more of the rain frost is cut down each day to make way for “progress”. It is vitally important for the environment and the indigenous peoples who live in these areas to save what is left.  I hope to raise awareness of this issue by creating a terrarium guitar, presenting the wonder and beauty that a rain forest can bring.  By showing what we have, I hope to show want we can lose.

Designer: Sylvia Villada / Charity: The World Food Programme

After having my thyroid removed in 2008, food strongly controls my entire well-being, and it has made me very sensitive to the nutritional needs of others. With 925 million people who were undernourished last year, I knew I wanted to design something that addressed the issue. Food is the source of life, and yet hunger continues to affect those who suffer natural disasters, poor agricultural infrastructure, disease, poverty, conflict, and lack of education. My goal was to create a design piece that would confront world hunger by the representation of the human body in it’s most surrendered condition. I chose the World Food Programme as my charity focus because they provide hunger relief to those with HIV/AIDS, to victims of natural disaster, to women’s health focus groups, to school children, to those willing to work for food, and to many other fundraising efforts that help nourish the world.

Designer: Soo Ji Han / Charity: War Child

Children face a further threat from war – emotional and mental damage. In order to empower children and young people in war-affected areas War Child provides opportunities and long term solutions for war-affected children, focusing on education and community-based programs. They emphasize psychological and social development and well-being of children. The experience of being understood and valued gives children the freedom to grow. For War child charity promotion I decided to visualize their fundamental goal: to advance the cause of peace through investing hope in the lives of children caught up in the horrors of war.

Designer: Tim Hucklesby / Charity: World Aids Day

Condom Guitar. I wanted to work on a guitar for World Aids Day because I feel it’s an issue that is no longer getting the attention it deserves. As medical care improves in treating people living with HIV and AIDS some would argue that the urgency of the disease is lessened. Whilst the prognosis is certainly better today than it ever has been, HIV remains an incurable and largely preventable illness. I decided to create a full size latex guitar mimic the coverage of a condom, accompanied by a large scale wrapper. I hope to remind people that using a condom during sex is a huge step towards preventing the transmission of HIV and at the same time draw attention to the charity.

Designer: Bruno Zalum / Charity: Zero db

Being an audiosexual myself, I am obsessed with music and religiously believe in its therapeutic virtues. But what happens when a song intended to elevate is used to torture? When the comforting intentions are viciously turned into bestial sadism? Music torture – or the so-called “no touch” method – has been used since the 1980’s on prisoners causing an incomparable mental anguish. My installation unveils two alarming aspects of this issue: the fact that humans are persecuted by music and the fact that the music itself is being persecuted by having its initial purpose deviated.

And here are the guitars:

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9 COMMENTS

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  3. Pingback: Adam Katz» Blog Archive » Rockin’ the Charitie

  4. I am impress by some of the designs and by all the charitys great idea !!! The most touching to my heart is The World Food Programme and the Human body Design what great detail work!!! You all are an inspiration here is a Thank You from someone who works with the Needy!!!

  5. While I think the idea behind this is neat, the first charity listed is so ridiculous to me. So many people were displaced because of Katrina. All of them suffered. I have nothing against musicians, but I don’t believe they deserve extra help because they play an instrument.

  6. That first guitar, the one that looks like a moth-like umbrella is not remotely playable. Shouldn’t good art be functional as well as just looking good (if it is created out of a functional item)? The rest are pretty cool though. You should have included the DeTemple guitars that the Asian Elepahan Art and Conservation Project (AEACP) auctioned off last year to help support the living conditions of elephants in Asia. The four guitars were painted by elephants trained to paint artisitc subjects. Here’s a link to the sale, and within it is a link to DeTemple guitars.

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