If you read my recent posts on the squatty potty you may remember that its lower end purpose is to aid in the evacuation process. Well, it turns out that the squatty potty has served a higher purpose as well.
Recently, in archiving his collection of articles my partner, who has been a vital part of the UCDavis academic community for over forty years, came across some information that described the influence of the squatty potty on a development in mid 20th-century art. Hard to believe? Read on.
As of the mid-sixties a talented group of faculty and grad students in the Art Department at the University of California, Davis would come to wield influence over the direction of some of the mid to late 20th century movements. An illustration of their influence manifested in the art exhibited in an exhibition titled, The Slant Step.
It all began when the now world-famous William Wiley an art professor at Davis, and his student Bruce Nauman discovered a funky step stool at a thrift store in Marin County, California. Instead of a flat step, the step was slanted. If one were to stand on it say, to reach an object on a shelf or cupboard high overhead, one could likely slide off. Intrigued by the irregularity, the artistic duo purchased the stool brought it back to the Davis campus. Shortly, it migrated around the art department drawing the unmitigated fascination of Profs and students to such an extent that the funk object began to enjoy a cult-like status.
By the time I came to work at UCDavis by way of the Davis Enterprise as an art critic over thirty years had passed since The Slant Step exhibition had taken place in San Francisco. It is no surprise that from the intrigue with the stool coupled with their multi-media talent, that the faculty produced such an exhibit. Conversation and continued fascination on the show of object art, ceramics, plaster, and mixed media long on humor continued within the walls of the department for years. I became well aware of The Slant Step, but I did not know the true purpose of the funky step stool until my partner informed me of the information he found as he perused his archives. With that, I did a bit more research and came across a recent article from the LA Times.
Though the squatty potty has only recently achieved a cult-like status among hip health-minded groups, it has a long history. One piece of information I would add to the Times article is one of the meanings of funk: stench-bad odor-smell!