I am interested in how culturally agreed upon definitions of beauty are used as tools throughout western narratives to justify the otherwise indefensible. In stories spanning from Judeo-Christian texts, to Appalachian folk songs, to children's fairytales, protagonists and villains alike are punished in ways that are so violent and devastating, one cannot help but question the moral authority of the author. A form of justice is dispensed, and a subjective ideal is asserted. Both are supported throughout the story by a culturally defined aesthetic of comfort and propriety. My work illustrates cracks in the spellbound beauty of fantasy worlds as cultural assertions of control are presented as moral truths. It grinds suggested narratives to a near halt, transforming them into truncated portraits of dysfunction.
Brutality, exploitation, and loss of control are key themes in my work, and they operate within meticulously constructed worlds of cinematic pomp. By nesting these challenging themes in the realm of fantasy, I sneak my sculptural and time-based vignettes into the home as safely compartmentalized entertainment. Elements of set design and traditional cinematic special effects are intended to satisfy the viewers appetite for spectacle while hinting at something existential. The fantasies are constructed using decorative materials that have been tortured into submission and imbued with a look of bodily distress. The resemblance to organic bodies communicates something beyond our control or awareness. The body is always vulnerable and references to it exist in my work to add an element of doubt to the implied narratives and their flamboyant presentation.
The conflicting states that I play with in my work are intended to trap viewers within a polarity of cuteness. As Simon May put it in his book, The Power of Cute, cuteness relates to a subject possessing qualities at two ends of a spectrum. For example, if a toy doll's stubby childlike limbs make it appear in need of assistance, but it's orange vest and yellow helmet says, “I’m headed to the construction site”, neither suggestion is true. The impossible contradiction locks us in a cuteness induced reverie. My work is meant to be beautiful and grotesque; aggressive and vulnerable. It strikes a precarious balance between dream and nightmare, trapping viewers between suggestions of impending calamity and soothing layers of decorative baby fat.
Driven by an urge to bring the strange and improbable to life, I shed light on hidden motivations, and by extension, the often dismal nature of our grand aspirations. In past work I have explored the limitations of my own self-awareness in relation to personal areas of interest like computer science, religious ritual, and environmental conservation. In my current practice, I continue in the vein of absurdist worldbuilding that confronts the viewer on a visceral and existential level.