A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast. One is always inclined to lay the blame on external circumstances, but nothing could explode in us if it had not been there. – Carl Jung
I preferred my villains to be evil and stay that way. - David Sedaris
In my work, I explore themes of extinction, death and transformation. I am fascinated with the natural processes of decay and destruction—particularly when in conflict with human systems. Nature is referenced, not by depicting the virile stag, but by illustrating its inevitable decay. Valuing macabre sensibilities, my work is also seasoned with inspiration derived from the idiosyncrasies and banality of pop culture; the final result may seem uncanny or blackly humored. These seemingly conflicting traits serve as a more accurate way to reference contemporary culture and the natural world—both are naturally composed of contradictions.
Occasionally I appropriate imagery from horror films, particularly the moment of transformation when a human becomes a beast. This transgressive imagery creates irony and tension in the work, especially when produced from the medium of clay—with its strong historical ties to comfort and beauty. Rooted in traditions of pantheism and superstition, the horror movie depicts a dark side of human nature. Mutated creatures are created in the murky depths of our collective subconscious. These images ride the boundaries between animal and human, instinct and reason, the conscious and the subconscious.
The human (or animal) figure is used as a point of departure, so that I may distort, abstract or scrutinize it. For instance, in my sculpture, I’ve Been Known to Ride on Chrome, I deconstruct an image of a domestic cat and a snake to depict the internal duality of beauty and beastly rooted in Jungian psychology. Domestic cats offer furry, lovable companionship and are a common subject of kitsch. Kitty-themed tchotchkes are ubiquitous—they thrive in the form of figurines and cookie jars. Meanwhile, snakes are collectively misunderstood to be merely venomous and loathsome, their imagery effectively utilized in the creepy tattoos that identify Lord Voldemort’s allies (in Rowling’s Harry Potter series). The quotidian belief of the western populace accepts that the cat is cuddlesome while the snake is inherently evil and directly associated with sin. However, when a cat becomes frightened, it transforms into a more beastly animal: fang teeth revealed, ears pulled back, hissing. (This is supposedly the feline’s attempt at mimicry). On the contrary, the vulnerable state of a coiled, sleeping snake may resemble a harmless lap cat. I have chosen these two animals in order to better mock the mythos of popular culture. I aim to dispel such collective misconceptions and delusions with my work; I understand this is a monumental undertaking.
In the selected works, Blonde Ambition and InterStella, I combine the ceramic material with mixed media forms in order to exaggerate the distortion of the figure. The stalactite and geometric forms are built with wire and paper-mache and then fitted to a removable armature. This process of building and assembling the work runs parallel with themes of distortion and deconstruction, the process of overturning normalcy. My installation piece, The Precious Object, draws from Greek mythology the story of the villainous Medusa—cursed with a head of writhing snakes for hair, despised by mortal men. Brightly glazed, my interpretation of this ancient heroine is adorned with a rhinestone in her tooth and a teardrop tattoo—illustrative of her painful, murderous life. The fired ceramic material appropriate as her lethal gaze was powerful enough to transform humans into stone. In this work, ‘crafty’ materials are employed, such as ceramic, yarn and Papier-Mache; this brazen use of mixed media, simultaneously denies and redefines the notion of craft.