Making art accessible is Jeff Knight’s goal and he’s doing it a few quarters at a time.
Knight, an assistant professor of graphic design, wanted more people to experience art but knew getting them to galleries or to the point of purchasing art probably wasn’t the first step. He headed down the road of easy and cheap access – vending machine sticker art.
“You put in 50 cents, you get a sticker, and you see what art is in our community,” Knight says.
About 25 local artists have worked with Knight creating art that can be transferred to the flat and small art format. Knight calls the project Albino Buffalo and, depending on the luck of the draw, you may just get a special buffalo sticker out of one of the vending machines.
“The idea is that the albino buffalo is considered to be special and sacred. These are a kind of golden ticket that you can turn in for something special,” Knight says.
There are two Albino Buffalo vending machines – one in Fargo at Unglued and a second in Bemidji. Knight is looking to other communities to expand the reach.
Chase Body '15, a local graphic designer and artist, says it wasn’t hard for him to translate his work to the stickers since he works in a mostly flat medium. Each artist provides five works for the series so that people can try to get them all in a sort of collectors mentality.
“In thinking about what to develop, I think it was important for us to keep in mind how individuals might interact with these stickers,” Body says. “Whether or not these stickers connected back to the Fargo community, sent an explicit message, or just displayed some really awesome work was totally up to us, and that creative freedom was awesome.”
Knight believes the experience and exposure for the artists is as important as the customer discovering the art. He also liked the idea of tapping into the nostalgia of the baseball card enthusiasts who remember the joy of getting a surprise each time they tried a machine.
“That audience has matured to supporting local art,” Knight says.
And for Body, he believes it enforces the importance of artists in a community.
“Projects like this and many others in Fargo demonstrate the importance art has in fostering urban growth,” Body says. “It is a great reminder that artistic and creative communities are absolutely essential to creating vibrant forward thinking communities.”
Amy Kelly '95 is the college communications and media relations director for Concordia.