While many people scour the sale papers seeking out weekly specials on bananas, one local artist looks for much more than a low price on this potassium packed snack. For Roy Koerner, bananas are an art form whose abandoned peels take on a life of their own.
Affectionately known as “Banana Boy Roy”, Koerner keeps busy in his Jefferson Park bungalow fashioning one-of-a-kind designs from withered banana peels with images ranging from ballerinas and bicyclists to basic wood boxes—all glorifying the beauty of an old banana. While this tropical fruit serves as the focal point of Koerner’s art, he has also branched out and has utilized other produce varieties. He cites a preference for “Michigan white peach skin, orange peels, cantaloupe, kiwi and pomegranates”
Koerner said his passion for “banana art” stems from his days as an Art Director at Campbell-Mithun-Esty Advertising. While juggling multiple assignments, Koerner pinned a banana peel to his office wall. A few days later, he “observed a unique transformation as the drying peel’s form changed seeking its own shape and color.” The artist was struck by the peel’s “linear, almost primitive quality” and banana art was born!
Although it was the ever-popular Chiquita that first hooked him, Koerner now prides himself on being on being a banana connoisseur of the first order. He said that he has “worked in all brands and varieties from plantains to finger bananas and in-between.” Plus, don’t expect “Banana Boy” to burn out on his claim to fame as he states that “I try to eat at least one banana a day, it’s good for the soul, and numerous other physiological factors”
Currently at Columbia College in a teaching capacity, Koerner notes that “My students know all about my “nana” art, in fact, they have presented me with a new resource for more bananas as they have been know to bring bunches at a time. Certainly apples are a “no no” for this teacher!”
While many artists have been known to draw on or create a new shape out of an entire banana, it is believed that Koerner is the only one who actually sculpts and creates art from the peel itself with a zeal that comes from knowing that he “creates a unique kind of beauty.” Koerner works on multiple projects at once as “the aspect of chance plays an important role in my work, thereby opening the door to many ideas of folly, where time has no meaning, unless it is a commissioned piece.”
It’s also worth noting that Koerner’s website is up, running and loaded with examples that show how he has made old, decaying bananas beautiful again.
For more info: bananaboyroy.com/