Scottsdale Public Art received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts this year for its fifth annual Canal Convergence: Water + Light + Art festival.
The festival displays the artwork of many different artists from around the world.
Tom Dekyvere, 31, a creator of art installations and sculptures, built a giant rope structure lit with LED lights that wrapped around the Arizona Canal in Scottsdale for this years Canal Convergence.
Dekyvere is from a small town in Ghent, Belgium, where he lives in an abandoned abbey. Canal Convergence was his first time creating his art in the US.
“I started with the arts on May 19, 1985, because that was the day I was born,” Dekyvere said. “I don’t believe in becoming an artist, I also don’t believe in the concept artist. I’m just a regular guy like everybody, who contributes something to our world.”
Dekyvere knows that his talent in the arts is there and that it would be a waste of life to not pursue his passion in his artwork.
He also believes that funding of the arts is crucial to welfare of people and their culture within a given community.
“I would like to promote more of private business and private funding of the arts because that to me is the future.
Dekyvere said that this kind of funding originally began in the United States and that since he has seen a lot of these same type of private funding opportunities growing in Europe.
This funding, Dekyvere believes, allows for the artists who bring this sort of welfare to people’s lives and their communities to continue doing so.
He admits that choosing to seek out a career in art can be difficult at the start so it is important to be stubborn and keep going until the work itself fulfills a purpose.
“Everyone including your own family is looking at you like, ‘Are you crazy, what the hell are you trying to do? Make money with art? You go to school and study economics and become important in financial industry…’ Well, that’s not what I’ve done,” Dekyvere said.
While Dekyvere’s family was a bit skeptic about his desire to pursue his passion for art, he made it clear that they were always very supportive of his aspirations and fully believed he would bring something unique to the world through his artwork.
His art career began four years ago, despite the doubt from his family and people all around him, and has been evolving ever since.
A local business owner in Dekyvere’s small town of Ghent funded a couple of thousand dollars toward his first work of art. The man’s only request was that he would integrate the local businesses logo somewhere on the information board of his artwork. So he began.
His artwork was integrated into the art trail festival in Ghent that over 500,000 people visited. It wasn’t long before he received an email from an art curator in Holland asking him to recreate his light sculpture from the festival.
The historical Belvédère tower of Nijmegen in Holland, Netherlands was where he built his second piece in 2012, which was a futuristic igloo with mirrors.
Following his creation in Holland, Dekyvere was presented with an opportunity to create a series of art installations near a WWII monument in Amsterdam.
“I made an installation out of eight sculptures that all communicated with each other to become a story,” said Dekyvere. “For me that was the real start of my work, it was a story about different groups of people of different backgrounds and cultures with different ideas connecting and disconnecting with each other.”
His art really started taking off and before he knew it he was creating his art in various places throughout Europe. Every Dekyvere work of art tells a story and further brings something to the community in which it is built.
The art installation that he created for the Canal Convergence in Scottsdale was created specifically for the canal and consists of over 24,000 feet of rope.
“This work, called the Polygonum 2.0, is about the adaptation of our natural environment and the relationships between the organic and artificial structures specific to the landscape of the Scottsdale Waterfront and the people who inhabit it,” Dekyvere said. “It is the crème de la crème of everything that I have done so far.”
His artwork is all sculpted on site, as it is imperative to him that he and the six others helping him create his vision really get into it and sensualize the environment where they are working.
Dekyvere’s works are created specifically for the environment in which they are created, each bringing something different to the community and the culture. Dekyvere believes art inspires culture and further culture brings welfare to one’s life.
“There is an aspect of disconnection that you have to accept in life and by accepting that I think you will be able to show more respect for the people who don’t think like you,” Dekyvere said. “You don’t necessarily have to think the same to be friends, and this is very important to what I am trying to bring with my art.”
Mackenzie Boulter is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.