Tucson has more than its share of examples of unique and innovative art. But Ned Schaper’s artistic vision may be one of the more unusual.
“I found out years ago that I was actually suppose to take lost objects that found their way to my door and give them a new life in theater,” says Schaper.
The Mat Bevel Institute Museum of Kinetic Art serves as the home base for Schaper’s kinetic or moving sculptures, made entirely from found objects, and as a performance studio for the 52 distinct characters that he has created over the years.
“Really, the idea is to implement action,” he says. “For years, I did my own performances in this space, and built my sculptures, but these days it’s mainly Mat Bevel Productions, and putting together the content for the website and Internet TV.”
Schaper says his goal is to get the kinetic Mat Bevel experience out to the world. A big part of that is developing his characters along with their corresponding philosophies and insights.
“I had all these characters, and I really didn’t know I was in theater,” says Schaper. “The junk kept going on in my head, and ‘you’re trying to deny that you're doing theater but next thing you know you’re doing theater.’ What I realized is that what I’m doing is non-linear theater… I mean, I have all these characters but I realized they could go in many different orders.”
Schaper says his path as the mastermind behind the Mat Bevel Institute Museum of Kinetic Art was never part of a predetermined plan. He simply followed an instinct that he says is much like that of an insect.
“I have a degree in entomology, so I can say this: it’s sort of chemically like the feeling the ant would have when he does what he’s suppose to do," he says. "You’re really just suppose to do what you’re suppose to do… you don’t have to know why you’re doing what you do.”