Artist Mari Kasurinen chose a bizarre medium for her sculptures of pop culture figures like Iron Man, The Joker and Mr. Spock: Her geeky tributes came in the form of customized My Little Pony figures.
The inspirational spark didn’t come from place you might expect. Not just a My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fan who wanted to spread pony love, Kasurinen says her weirdly wonderful sculptures make a statement about materialism.
While looking for a way to address individualism in her work, Kasurinen became fascinated with the idea of customization and how people use custom objects (cars, clothes, etc.) to show status. She ultimately decided to send her message about materialism through toys, the very objects often used to teach children about culture.
“Play is children’s way to explore and understand the world around us,” Kasurinen said in an e-mail to Wired.com. “When parents get to decide and design their children’s toys, which are their mediums in play, the influence is inevitable.”
The Finnish artist said she considered many types of toys, including Barbie and He-Man, before deciding on My Little Pony for her series of polymer clay sculptures, which she calls My Little Pop Icons.
The ponies — which had no constrictions because of their plain, plastic and genderless nature — proved to be a perfect platform for Kasurinen’s whimsical sculptures. They are the latest incarnation of Hasbro’s My Little Pony toys from the ’80s, which have whipped up a whirlwind since the animated My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic TV series debuted last year. Adult male fans, known as “bronies, ” have taken to the show, turning it into an unlikely all-ages hit.
For her pony sculptures, Kasurinen said she chooses pop icons — from Michael Jackson to Alien’s killer creature to Rorschach from Watchmen — based on their impact on popular culture. She uses ponies, she said, because they are essentially commercial products that, when portrayed in her artwork, represent people’s desire for individuality.
“I wanted to combine this great urge which we have about our own private identity with the identities of pop icons, who are more of a phenomena than real, private persons,” she said.
Kasurinen, whose sculptures are about the same size as a standard My Little Pony toy and cost between $720 to $1,150, is largely working on commissioned ponies these days — Rapunzel from Tangled and Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies.
There are, however, a few pop-culture luminaries the artist wants to put a My Little Pony spin upon.
“After these I’ll make some choices of my own,” Kasurinen said. “One of them will definitely be Nina — magnificently performed by Natalie Portman in the movie Black Swan. Also, I still haven’t turned my greatest hero into a My Little Pop Icon: Bob Dylan.”
Check out a gallery of Kasurinen’s geekiest My Little Pop Icons above. See more of the artist’s work on her website.
All photos courtesy Mari Kasurinen