Kaycee Lane Turns Vintage Trash into Kitschy Treasures
Kaycee Lane’s favorite part of an estate sale is the basement. Knick knacks, odd ends, the contents of someone’s old junk drawer—that’s where she starts. While calling her a collector may not be too far off, there is also a purpose behind this method. “I’m a trash artist,” says Lane. “I mainly work in trash.”
Lane grew up surrounded by artists and has created art in various mediums for most of her life, but found her niche when she began to explore the nature of “stuff.”“ I love stuff. The stuff you decide to keep and the stuff you get rid of, that matters.” She continues in her artist statement, “The things people choose to keep gives others insight into who one is—marking all of us individuals as well as connecting us to a group.”
“The things people choose to keep gives others insight into who one is—marking all of us individuals as well as connecting us to a group.”
It’s this “stuff,” the oddball items Lane has been collecting over the years, that she uses for her various creations. From elaborate headdresses made of jewels and doll hands to bedazzled vintage taxidermy, Lane’s style toes the line between creepy, cutesy and kitschy in the best possible way.
After seeing her work, local artist Jonathan King asked Lane to help create a piece for the Utah Arts Alliance (UAA). Lane used a mix of insulation foam and “bits and bobs”— plastic toys, accessories and utensils—to create a giant purple octopus. This octopus, which takes up an entire wall, has since been moved to Dreamscapes’ immersive, sensory art labyrinth. Seeing how well it fit, King asked Lane to join the Dreamscape’s team as an artist, and eventually, UAA volunteer coordinator.
Founded by the UAA, Dreamscapes is made up of 100+ local artists and volunteers who use mostly repurposed and upcycled materials to create otherworldly, dream-like spaces to explore. Lane’s artwork is scattered throughout the surreal maze, with one room in particular filled with her “kitschy” designs, including walls made of fluffy stuffed animals and mountains made of eyeballs and candy. “It’s where your imaginary friends go to die,” explains Lane. The attraction is built for everyone to enjoy, adults and children alike. Dreamscapes is a place, Lane says, “to be a bit of a kid again. A ‘forgetting-about’ space.”
“It’s where your imaginary friends go to die…to be a bit of a kid again. A ‘forgetting-about’ space.”
This “just because” approach to artwork has put Lane in the spotlight, garnering attention from other artists and creators in Salt Lake, especially in the drag community. From designing jewelry and headpieces to upcycling clothing, Lane describes collaborating with performance artists and seeing her designs on stage as both inspiring and exciting. It also caught the attention of SLUG photographer Bonneville Jones, who asked Lane to create photoshoot backdrops for Bold & Beautiful, a monthly feature celebrating local performance artists in the LGBTQ+ community.
“People never ask me if I’ve done something before, they ask me if I can do something… I’ve never done it before, but we’ll make it work,” Lane says. It’s this mindset that has allowed Lane’s artistry to become so widespread. From jewelry and home decor to large 3D installations and backdrops, Lane does it all. As volunteer coordinator for the UAA, she also plays a major role in organizing and facilitating the production of both Dreamscapes and their annual fundraiser called SLC WHITE PARTY.
“People never ask me if I’ve done something before, they ask me if I can do something… I’ve never done it before, but we’ll make it work.”
The WHITE PARTY, coming up on February 17, is a place to celebrate LGBTQ+ artists while raising funds for the Utah Arts Alliance. To support the event, the public can either purchase tickets to attend at utaharts.org or volunteer their time to help artists like Lane construct the decor. This year’s theme is “Rhinestone Rodeo,” which is very on-brand for Lane.
If there’s any takeaway Lane hopes volunteers and members of the general public get from her work, it’s that trash can be beautiful, too. “Everyone thinks that art has to be expensive, but whatever you have can become artwork,” Lane says. “Anyone can make it.”
“Everyone thinks that art has to be expensive, but whatever you have can become artwork.”
See Kaycee Lane’s creative decor work at the 24th annual SLC WHITE PARTY at Utah Arts Alliance at South Town on February 17. You can find Lane’s other artwork at Dreamscapes in the Shops at South Town in Sandy or at the Urban Arts Gallery and keep up with her on Instagram @vintage_creep.