Bubblegum & Whiskey is a collaborative interdisciplinary project based in Nebraska that explores the function and aesthetic of objects often found in “hometowns” across the country. It takes the form of old signage, various tools, toys, peculiar inventions, traditional housewares, and more. The idea of home is foundational in exploring high and low-brow craftsmanship; need vs. want, making- do vs. excelling, buying vs. making. It can be curious or endearing but is always sincere. Some solutions are clever while others are not-quite-sufficient, rather off in some way. The resulting landscape is a blend of once bright colors in faded layers.
Within a contemporary culture that emphasizes expedience in production and consumption, Bubblegum & Whiskey highlights the value of “doing it yourself.” This particular brand of creation focuses on continuing the family and community-oriented traditions of passing-down skills. Stories told become tall tales. Scraps and oddball leftovers are put to use in unusual ways.
Bubblegum & Whiskey is run jointly by Sarah Swist and Kevin Mercer, who currently live and work in Nebraska. They met in a small, rural, corn-belt town before they attended Penn State University to obtain MFA degrees. They have since lived and traveled all over. To this pair, putting down new roots in a different place has been a very common affair. What they observe in new communities is the ingenuity of friends and neighbors, even when compromise is apparent.
Together, the duo produces 2D and 3D pieces that exploit a multitude of materials and processes to convey their interest in contemporary art, craft, and the DIY movement. Wood, metal, fibers, digitally fabricated components, painting, and found objects are given homes within the Bubblegum & Whiskey canon. Recent work has been shown with Treat Gallery in New York, James May Gallery in Wisconsin, and with the Mid-America College Art Association.