Growing up in an arts- and music-infused ranch style house in the 1960s, Clark Whittington was exposed to creativity of all sorts. His mom is a self-taught graphic designer, his brother is a music teacher, his dad a barber, and his great uncle was a textile worker. As a child, he learned to problem solve and loved to tinker. He also discovered from his family and neighbors that it was okay to make something instead of buying it.
Whittington majored in art at Appalachian State University, in Boone, North Carolina. After working in cooperative art galleries and the business world, this conceptual artist dreamed up the idea of taking old cigarette machines, enhancing their appearance with fresh paint and other custom detailing details, and transforming them into a collective work of art called the Art-o-mat®. Currently there are approximately 120 of these machines installed in various sites around the world. Whittington has gathered together more than 300 artists that make up the group known as Artists in Cellophane who fill these small cigarette-sized packages with original works of art that can only be acquired through an Art-o-mat machine.
This conceptual work of art needs very little explanation. All you have to do is purchase a $5 token from JCSM’s Gift Shop, decide which work of art you want, and pull the lever.
The Art-o-mat works on so many levels, such as nostalgia – when was the last time you saw a cigarette machine? And now these machines have been converted from suppliers of habit forming smokes to vendors of original works of art for the affordable price of $5! And who can resist the interactive nature of this endeavor? We hope to see you start your own Art-o-mat collection very soon!