Exploration Place is harboring a unique surprise in the bridge leading from the main lobby to the museum.
Along the west wall, visitors will find an exhibition of Mark Hackett’s aluminum art. Hackett, an aspiring artist who discovered while working at local aircraft plants that aluminum could be used for making more than planes, will have art on display at Exploration Place through October.
“His artwork is very unique and unexpected,” said Deborah Dimmick, project manager at Exploration Place. “It’s like watching a cloud. I just find it fascinating.” The mystical nature of Hackett’s art is emphasized by the reflection of light from the windows and water below.
“The light reflects more and kind of changes when you move around it,” Hackett said.
“It changes from each direction depending on where you’re standing.” Hackett uses a sheet of aluminum, transparent paint and a grinder to create his works.
“I just keep painting and grinding until I get something that I like,” he said. Hackett’s work is mostly abstract but his talents are versatile enough that he even takes custom orders.
“I started getting into sports figures and musicians,” Hackett said. “I can pretty much do anything anybody wants.”
Hackett’s interest in art developed at a young age, when as a third grader, he enrolled in art classes at the Wichita Art Museum. He went on to get a degree in graphic design from Wichita State University.
The lack of opportunity in his field led Hackett to a job at Cessna, where he discovered that aluminum was a versatile medium.
“I’ve been doing this for seven years now,” Hackett said. “I’ve had real good luck.” His first success came at Bella Luz in Old Town, which put some of his Hackett’s work for sale on consignment. His art is still available for purchase there today.
Hackett’s art is not his livelihood. He works full time at Spirit AeroSystems and part-time as a graphic designer for Iseman Photography in Wichita. He hopes to eventually get his art to a larger market.
“I’d like to expand to Kansas City and try to get my art in some bigger galleries,” he said.
For more information about Hackett’s aluminum art, visit ToTheGrind.com.
If you go
Mark Hackett’s Aluminum Art Exhibit
When: Hackett’s art is available for viewing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Where: Exploration Place, 300 N. McClean Blvd.
How much: Visitors can see the art for free in the bridge, but regular admission will apply to those wanting to continue into the museum.
To purchase: Visit the Explore Store and speak with a clerk to purchase a piece. Pieces can also be purchased on ToTheGrind.com and at Bella Luz, 300 N. Mead in Old Town Square.