Weird art: Artist, model from Lee’s Summit team up for web project

tporter@lsjournal.comApril 18, 2014 

So much can be taken from Mark Allen’s art.

The curator and creator of Mark Allen Concepts, Allen has teamed with fellow Lee’s Summit native Kat Von Rich to form a limited time only web store for Allen’s artwork and other artistic creations. Von Rich is not just along for the ride. A professional model who shuffles between Lee’s Summit and New York, the 20-year-old Von Rich teamed with the 22-year-old Allen to offer her modeling skills as well as her creative insights.

Together they created the web store concept that when unveiled April 8 had only a 14-day shelf life.

“It’s limited edition because everything is made to order,” Allen said. “I am taking orders for two weeks and from that making everything a redesign for one person.”

One of Allen’s more prodigious pieces is a custom-made body bag. Tabbed with a regular price of $1,600, the couture for the post-mortem is fitted with six black handles and a faux-fur interior. The bags are made with measurements to fit the buyer like a glove.

“It’s fit to your body, so you can hold on to it eventually to you pass away,” Allen said of his creations which are now listed on the temporary web store for 50 percent off the original price. The bags, which come in vinyl leather, red calf, white ostrich and black crocodile varieties, will be discontinued after the spring/summer season. “It’s just kind of a reminder of your death. It’s accepting your mortality knowing that there is a body bag always your size and that you will have it.”

Allen graduated from Pepperdine University in 2013 after three years there and received his diploma from Lee’s Summit North High School in 2010. He crossed paths at North with Von Rich, who graduated in 2012. She was known as Kat Richardson then.

“We both have been working on this project together,” Allen said of working with Von Rich. “She is kind of the muse for this project. She’s great. She’s more than just a model; she’s a collaborator. She’s very much an influence of the finished project.”

“He just kind of asked me to help get his line started, so we started shooting together,” Von Rich added. “It worked out really well. We work really well together. Our visions go really well together. The reason why we work so well together is because we know what we’re going for. He doesn’t really have to give me any directions and if he wants something all he has to do is tell me and we get it done really fast.

“(The art) is really weird kind of, I don’t know. It’s really weird, but I think it’s cool for people our age that understand it. Other generations may look at that and be appalled, but the thing that we’re doing is kind of like our generation showing people how creative we can be.”

Although the body bags are a hot topic and a good selling point for Allen, other abstract items are available for purchase on the web store. He has tabs for unisex clothing and apparel, an art gallery, apothecary items such as candles and other fragrances. Other drop down menu buttons include a tab for items such as custom Mark Allen lighters, jewelry and stickers.

Those vaunted body bags have their own tab as well.

“For the past two years I’ve been thinking of ways to expose the body bags to a new audience,” Allen said.

Von Rich, who has modeled for Allen inside one of the body bags, said customer’s reactions to the body bags are timeless.

“I love to see people’s reaction to the body bags,” Von Rich said. “It’s mainly a social experiment, but it’s fun to see people’s reaction.”

Von Rich added her custom piece will be waiting on her when it’s time.

“We’ve talked about it before and I told him to bury me with one,” she said.

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