This Q&A series focuses on artists contributing to the #ArtisticVisionPgh project cosponsored by Most Wanted Fine Art and Penn Avenue Eyewear. Kai Devenitch tells us how the world looked from behind his favorite pair of sunglasses.
Name: Kai Devenitch
Did you grow up with any siblings, friends or schoolmates who wore glasses? Was it a big deal with other kids?
Yes, I had a sister and friends who wore glasses through school. I think anything that sets you apart from the herd can make you feel different. Much like braces, one day someone might come into class with glasses and though they are there because one needs them, it’s easy for someone to turn necessity into nonsensical nagging.
Describe your favorite pair of sunglasses (ever.) I’d have to say my favorite pair of sunglasses EVER were a pair of 1970’s BluBlockers. A friend had given them to me for my birthday one year after finding an untouched pair at GoodWill. It wasn’t so much the look of the sunglasses that I enjoyed, it was the way the world looked through them. It was as if the glasses allowed more light in to make the world seem a little less dark. Even on cloudy days, it would look sunny. I wore them until the scratches on the lens were so bad you could hardly see; then they finally broke. It was a sad day indeed.
How often do you wear sunglasses and why? I wear sunglasses almost everyday or every time it’s sunny. When I got older, I thought to myself, “Man, I really hate squinting! There’s got to be a better way.” Ever since that day, a pair of sunglasses has been within an arm’s reach at any given time. No one likes to be caught in broad daylight without sunglasses. It’s just a bad experience for everyone involved.
Sunglasses are iconic cool in pop culture. What character from television, movies, comics, etc wore sunglasses in a way that stayed with you? There are lots of iconic sunglasses photos that spring to mind when reading this question but the ones that stuck with me were the spies in older films. As a boy, nothing was cooler than James Bond handling the bad guy’s henchmen then casually waiting outside for a lady while leaning against the car in sunglasses. There’s something that screams calm, cool and collected about that. I’ve been trying to be that suave and smooth ever since. Though it’s only worked half as well as Bond, it doesn’t hurt to have a nice pair of shades helping out.
Describe your relationship with your current pair of sunglasses. I currently rock the wooden Penn Ave Eyewear sunglasses. They are comfy around the sides of my head and give a much different look than the popular sunglasses of today. They always draw positive attention and most people can’t believe they’re actually made of wood!
There’s a pervasive stigma about wearing glasses for young and old, but an equally pervasive idea that glasses indicate intelligence (or hipness.) Explain that duality.
To me, glasses stand for one thing, you have issues seeing 100% so you need a little help. Young or old, if you need glasses, you need glasses. Lately, it seems that it’s “hip” to wear glasses. I’ve known people who would wear glasses with no prescription whatsoever just so they can appeal to a certain crowd. Psychologically, it might make you look smarter but it isn’t not going to change your IQ any. Most people I know who wear glasses, enjoy the break from wearing them when they have contacts in. So, it’s almost the opposite situation for the actual glass wearers. It’s hip to be you. Glasses or not.
Has participating in this project changed the way you think about vision health? Yes, having many family members who wear glasses and potentially needing them in the future, this project has made me think on the subject more than ever. I know many of the others in these interviews who have had glasses for years and hearing their personal stories makes me much more humble to what they have been through. With the economy and healthcare system that we have in this country, it’s easy to see why vision health is so important to those who need it. After all, it’s one of the basic sense that makes us human. Imagine back in caveman days, there were no glasses. You would have to deal with blurry vision trying to hunt and gather food you’re whole life. I can’t imagine that would be much fun.
Tell me about your work for this exhibit. I’m using a pair of sunglasses combined with a nature theme to create a mixed media piece including paper, paint and wood. The addition of the wooden frames will help to bring the nature theme full circle. It’s still a work in progress so who knows where it will end up. I’m tossing around the idea of including pieces of a vinyl record as well. I guess you’ll have to stop by the show to see what else I put in there!
How can readers learn more about your work? You can read more about my work by visiting my website, finding me on Facebook or just stopping by one of the Most Wanted Fine Art events