My studio practice centers on my ongoing investigation into the imagery of judeo/christian culture and how these old sources can translate into contemporary art. The religious images that were once an assumed vocabulary of western visual culture have become strange and a bit archaic, but are still potent. I tend to draw ideas from the canonical texts themselves as well as art historical precedents. What interest me most are the ever-shifting meanings pof these ancient stories in the 21st century, especially in the current political climate.
Having recently been given a residency to experiment in blown glass, my latest body of work explores ideas surrounding "giving up the ghost"--including the last breath, last words, the insubstantiality of the 'spirit', the ever-elusive Holy Ghost, as well as the literal breath required to inflate a hot glass bubble or speak a word. In some pieces, I embedded cut or woven copper text into molten glass to play with the complex relationship between breath and language--between respiration and aspiration, as it were. The subsequent process of filling a 'language bubble' with breath obliterated and distended the text, often beyond recognition, while the words also deformed the shape of the glass.
The hardware store aesthetic in my work stems from my interest in the age-old problem of using base materials to manifest elusive, usually slippery, spiritual ideas. Sculpturally, how does the illusion of etherial floating, so often used to describe religious hierarchies, work with the grubby practicalities of gravity? I am alway interested in sneaking behind the gilded altarpieces for a glimpse of the structure that holds up the hefty dazzle. To me, the human ingenuity and material use in pusuit of a holy image can be far more beautiful than the intended message of the façade. In the studio, my own solutions often involve some sort of prosthetic bracing or ridiculous scaffolding to hold parts aloft. Illusions remain thinly veiled.
Using everything from simple levers to artificial hearts,
I have found mechanical metaphors particularly suited to thinking
about the functions of religion and faith.
For the most part, the devices I use are passive, requiring
the viewer to actually or mentally complete the system. It
is a sort of do-it-yourself approach involving the labor of
cranking, pumping, grinding, or simply turning on the gas.
The materials as well as
the allusions in my sculpture have the quality of being well
worn. I tend to prefer the lumpy, yellowed, dejected, rusty, earnest conditions of many of the media I use in my work. The cast iron, for example, recycles tubs and radiators into new castings which I often combine with found forms. Most of the mechanical parts are culled from salvaged domestic or industrial scrap that I reconfigure into new devices while still retaining
a memory of some former use. That physical evidence of damage
and repair adds a sense of history to the reworking of old
sources in the light of the present moment.