October 20, 2014
Performance art benefits Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
By Julie Troha
Most people would cringe at the slightest smudge on a shiny new sports car. But Casey Swanseger grinned as he slathered brightly colored paint all over a 2014 Corvette Stingray. Swanseger, a 2007 CIA graduate who designs Corvettes and Camaros for GM’s global performance studio, was one of three young GM designers who transformed the white vinyl-wrapped Vette into a “performance art car” in a 45-minute live-action fundraiser during the recent Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) Gala.
Inspired by the art cars of Andy Warhol, Peter Max, and Frank Stella, Swanseger roughed out the concept in advance with his colleagues, Haneif Katebi and Tyler Mars. In the digital painting they liked the most, “the colors were from a photo of lava flowing into the sea,” he said. The finished design features bold fiery lines criss-crossing a field of muted blue and purple.
When event organizers required the use of water-soluble acrylic paint to avoid solvent fumes, the artists faced a technical challenge: the vinyl wrapper on the car was hydrophobic. So Swasenger called on his fine arts background for a solution. After a few test runs he “ended up sanding the vinyl down with heavy duty steel wool, then priming it with Kilz primer from Home Depot,” he said. The primer “gave it some tooth and just enough absorbency” to create a professional result.
MOCAD called the performance a “roaring success.” The gala raised nearly $400,000 according to Kari Nattrass of GM Design Communications. In a press release, MOCAD Executive Director Elysia Borowy-Reeder said, “Thanks to the support of industry partners like GM, we can continue the vital work of inspiring and empowering teens in middle and high school to reach their full potential, provide pathways to creative professions, and increase diversity in those important innovative fields.”
Above, Casey Swanseger '07 in mid-performance. To view a series of images of the MOCAD gala, click here.
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