The Pitch: How did you get into documentary filmmaking? Was it difficult, or did you always dabble?
John Sebelius: It happened by chance. I went to the Sturgis rally initially for lived experience and to take reference photos for a future series of drawings. Once I entered the city, I was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells of Sturgis, and I filmed everything I observed. The filmmaking process has brought a heartbeat to my art making that has never before existed. This medium grants me the ability to effortlessly capture the rawness of human emotion and the captivating oral tradition of storytelling. There is a stiff learning curve when you make your first film, but that difficulty also attracted me to the process.
What made you want to examine the 70th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally? I assume the film will showcase everything that happened while you were there, but can you tell me a bit about it?
Searching At Sturgis isn't a formal documentary about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally but an artist narrative that examines my personal experiences as an outsider at the rally. I became intrigued with the psychology of crowd dynamics, and enjoyed being part of a population and invisible all at once. Along with capturing all of the excitement of the rally, I focused on societal implications of behavior and on if being part of a crowd absolves one of the same restrictions they may experience as an individual.
What subjects do you think your work might examine next?
I would love to investigate the Maori Warrior of New Zealand next. My aim is to examine the visual presentation of male gender identity within this community, the moral standards and rules that exist for this gender, and the influences of masculinity on personal expression.What pieces of your work of will be on display Thursday? How long is the film?
There will be an installation of several sculptural pieces throughout the space and a small series of paintings. The film is 30 minutes in length.
How's your MFA going? Do you know what your exit project/thesis will be? Do you want to teach when you finish?
I'm so glad that the MFA program at KU is three years because I have the time needed to develop my voice as an artist for my thesis. I recently returned from a summer residency at the Vermont Studio Center in June which was greatly beneficial for my artist practice and allowed me the opportunity to experiment with non-traditional materials. Despite any future happenings that may occur during my path as an artist, I will always continue to pursue a life where teaching plays a central role.
I clicked through a few of the links on your site. Are these friends or artists you admire? Do others' works inspire you?
It's a combination of both. Some of the links are also friends of mine whose work I admire (RBW, Brandon Herman, and Robin Williams). I get great inspiration from the work of others, even if that work doesn't relate to mine.
I saw you're screening again at the Lawrence Arts Center in Sept. Any more plan for screenings?
I am having a solo exhibition at Lawrence's Invisible Hand Gallery on August 26th and a solo exhibition at the Kansas City Artists Coalition Underground Gallery from Oct. 14th-Nov. 18th.
The Knuckleheads event tonight begins at 7:30 p.m., and the screening starts at 8:30 p.m. It's 21+, free, and open to the public.