John Sebelius, Lawrence artist, fashion designer, filmmaker and son of former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, has always seen a connection between his art and his political upbringing. He just never expected to see it evolve into a film about American motorcycle culture.
He recently finished his debut film, “Searching at Sturgis,” a look at the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. The film peeks into the lives and stories of the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country who descend on the site every year.
“I think there’s a direct relation to the way that I was raised and what I’m interested in now,” Sebelius said. “It helped me to be open to humankind and investigate individuals who remain unseen. I investigate that legacy and give them a voice through my own artwork.”
Sebelius is working to finish his thesis at the University of Kansas and plans to graduate next year with a master’s in fine arts in painting and drawing. He originally traveled to Sturgis to gain inspiration for a set of drawings he planned to do but was overwhelmed by the majestic scenery and the connection he felt to the people.
“I found I was captivated not only by the landscape but the authenticity of the people, so I started videotaping everything I saw,” Sebelius said. “It’s something that I just can’t shake. We’re going back this year to film it again and to have another kind of experience out there. This go around, the footage just kind of happened because I didn’t set out to make a film.”
He plans to screen the movie July 28 at Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester St., where it will accompany an art exhibition with music from DJ DC beginning at 7 p.m.