I make creatures and things. Entities that are like us, that are like me, but are not. They are grounded in our collective human experience of body; of the body's physicality, of the body's awkwardness, of the body's sexyness, of the body's grossness, of the body's absurdity, of the body's hilarity. Not just some body. Every body. no body. Referents of symbols/icons/objects interject themselves within my work, pointing around something specific. A hazy highlighter, circling around this/that through the opaque filter we call art.
I am deeply and personally engaged with certain issues which bleed into the work that I make, as I think about them constantly...
Queerness is something I obsess about: its utilization in critical thinking and its role in subverting thought. It is important to me because I identify with being 'the other', and my sculptures fall into this place of otherness. I think living this role is important to me because it provides an outsider perspective on inherently fucked up societal structures, which go to inform the work that I make. I also have a hard time pinning down what queerness actually is, and I really like that about it. When I make what I feel to be my most successful pieces of art, they have that element to them too.
In contrast to queerness, I think a lot about normalizing. I think about this in a few different ways, whether that be how oppressed sub-groups are normalized (whitewashed) in order to make them more palatable for societal consumption, or how right-wing supremacists try to package and normalize hatred and fear in order to get ignorant people on board with their propaganda. I stand passionately against that, and I want my work to stand against it too. I think it does, not explicitly but it's there in both subtle and unabashed ways. I think I make weird things that are proudly so, and these things will always wave their freak flag in the face of homogeneity. My things are absurd, but they don't have to be. I fight to make weirdness ok.
I think society is sex-negative and shames sex, especially if that sex is queer. Me and my work are sex-positive, and inclusive of all sexualities between consenting adults. My work is sexual. Not Sexual, but sexual. Funny sexy, not super serious, and not uptight. Specifically it's gay, but there are some beautiful, awkward, hilarious things that happen with sexual exploration that I think everyone can relate to, no matter what your orientation is. Combating inhibition is something that I'm personally invested with in relation to sexuality, and I am interested in it conceptually within my work and the creatures that I create. Particularly in relation to gay culture, fetish and kink culture, furry fandom and other internet subcultures. I want my work to embrace the awkwardness and be a liberating expression of pride.
I touch on all of these serious issues with humour and playfulness. Life can be fucking miserable, so I think joking about it allows us to deal with it instead of pretending everything is fine. Humour and absurdity go hand in hand, and I think humour is a powerful tool to which we can initiate palpable change and fight for social justice, while “lessening the blow,” so to speak, through the intrinsic affability that humour affords us. I think humour is a fantastic connective strategy that bridges gaps between people and opens up possibilities for learning and empathy.
“I think because people find my work humorous, they're willing to think about the deeper issues, spend some time with it, and walk away saying, 'Actually, that was about more than the fact that it was just a knit, crocheted locker room.” There's something else there and you know that because it's kind of funny. If it didn't have this layer, it's possible people wouldn't engage so deeply.”
I also think my work can be uncomfortable, or at least straddles the line of comfortablity. I really like that. There is a push/pull that I'm creating when I make work that is gross and beautiful, clunky and graceful, messy and refined, stupid and smart, awkward and sexy, confrontational and reflective, fake and real, our-world and other-world. An in-between space, or queer space, that is meant to challenge the status-quo of our perceptions. This place is way more interesting to me then any defined space, and I think that because it is hard to pin down, our immediate response is to want to reject it. I believe that behaviour is learned though, and in my art practice I aim to find ways to allow that to break down. I want to implicate the viewer in my work, but in a way that allows them to come into it without pushing them away or holding their hand.
Performance is very important to me. I've really become engaged with the relationship of body and sculpture, and the idiosyncratic dialogue that's created when the two interact or become one... like creating a person-sculpture hybrid that ultimately becomes another form of creature/character. In relation to this, gender performance is something that I am also intensely absorbed with, as I believe it effects every aspect of our lives and how we act. I think physical gestures can point to specific things without dictating or explaining what those things are, as human physicality is something everybody has experience with. The body is a vessel for so many things, so performance becomes this kind of conduit between viewer and art. Between this world and this other world.
Bodies are something that we all have, and we all relate to their physicality, possibilities, and limitations, not to mention their mortality, grossness, and beauty. I think everything I create is a reflection of the body; my body, your body, some body, every body. Also, no body. They become something other, and by becoming something other they open up possibilities of transcendence, for reflection and critique. I think bodies are inherently empathetic in that they are something everybody has a shared lived experience with, and thus can relate to. Perhaps because of that, bodies are a material that is privileged over every other kind of material. Society ridiculously privileges certain bodies over others, and I aim to highlight the absurdity of that fact within the work I create.
“There are basically two kinds of philosophy. One’s called prickles, the other’s called goo. And prickly people are precise, rigorous, logical. They like everything chopped up and clear. Goo people like it vague. For example, in physics, prickly people believe that the ultimate constituents of matter are particles. Goo people believe it’s waves. And in philosophy, prickly people are logical positivists, and goo people are idealists. And they’re always arguing with each other, but what they don’t realize is neither one can take his position without the other person. Because you wouldn’t know you advocated prickles unless there was someone advocating goo. You wouldn’t know what a prickle was unless you knew what a goo was. Because life isn’t either prickles or goo, it’s either gooey prickles or prickly goo.”
-Alan Watts, from The Nature of Consciousness
My work is gooey and so am I. There is something transgressive to the materiality of my creations. I don't really respect materials, and by that I mean I don't care if I do them wrong. I have ideas and knowledge of how they will function in my work, but it is only through their enactment that their function becomes palpable. I encourage them to fuck up, as I find responding to unexpected consequences incredible rewarding and a reason why I continue to make.
Resin solidifies, encapsulates, canonizes, makes precious and important of something pathetic or fragile. It acts like amber oozing into all the crevices, fossilizing all the little bits so they could one day be extracted and made into a schadenfreude theme park for future generations.
Silicone is skin; artificial us. It stretches and flops, and covers and hops, it's inherently absurd and kind of childish. It's the conduit between the mediated and the real, the in between space that we shouldn't be made aware of. Paper is practical and quick.
Cardboard (paper's evolution) is spectacular, layers of corrugation that can build out vast, light structures in a short amount of time. It's utterly dumb in the most beautiful sense, an abject waste material that is everywhere and never here, used in my work it's hidden behind the tissues of well, tissue paper.
Fabric and its fabric-ness; the materials, patterns, and colours that it is made of and how those aspects are gendered. Leather reads different then lace. Fabric is (generally) soft. Hug-able. It is engrained with nostalgia. There is something transgressive to the nature of fabric, especially in relation to politically and socially heavy subject matter, not to mention art itself. By extension, I like how fabric speaks with concepts of masculinity.
There is a power in subverting the associations of different materials, whether that is by reclaiming it's pejorative agency as a point of liberation or re-framing it in a context that allows it to highlight the absurdities of those associations. I'd like to highlight the absurdity of those constructs while simultaneously creating a queer space to which those connotations muddle into each other and perhaps become something other.