Making Arrangements

As a species, our arrangements are centered on organizing the planet to fit our needs and desires. We arrange our finances, property, affairs, health, and our eventual end. Along the way we rearrange material resources, usually transforming them into wealth. The cycle is complete, or is it?

In the studio I arrange shape and form, creating opportunities for light and shadow (and perhaps wealth). These arrangements are informed by the mundane ritual of eating that is long celebrated in ceramics. Unlike the potter whose empty dishes present an opportunity, my settings come prearranged as opulent, inedible meals that are simultaneously beautiful and disgusting. In this process, sustenance becomes merely a concept forever locked in its sculptural form and eating becomes a metaphor for excessive material consumption.

Like an extravagant meal, the arrangements we make to further our desires can come with painful unintended consequences. My recent body of work explores notions of gluttony and cultural excess.



Fruits of Labor (blue and whites)

My work has been motivated by societal observations that typically involve paradox and irony. In this body of work, I am interested in the tension between our need for cultural specificity and the effects of increasing globalization.

My current sculpture is subtly informed by a trip to China in the fall of 2004 and by the history of chinoiserie ceramics. Chinoiseries are European decorative works produced under the influence of Chinese art in the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time the Chinese also started making works that catered to European tastes. It is this crosspollination of ideas that most interests me about this period. Through the exchange of ideas, each respective culture becomes a little more like the other. Chinoiserie ceramics could be considered an artistic crystallization of what we now call globalization.

This work borrows from the decorative history of East and West, fusing them into precarious forms, which mimic portions of industrial and urban landscapes. Western influences include forms derived from Cornucopias and Corinthian columns, or other symbols of prosperity and affluence. The Eastern influences are appropriated blue and white porcelains. At times, these elements are literally glazed together in the firing process.

Using purchased objects in the work alludes to notions of trade and consumerism. The objects I have chosen are associated with growth and nourishment through their domestic roles as planters or food receptacles and so on. Trade and consumerism are also forms of growth. In some regards the work is an attempt to reconcile disparate interpretations of the word “growth”. What is good for industry is not always good for the individual.

Ever growing financial dependency is not without it’s concerns. Throughout the world, angst about indigenous economies and energy supplies changing to a more globalized structure can create fear and mistrust. The sculptures I create do not propose to pass specific judgment on East or West. Instead, my intention is to create work that serves as a point of contemplation for our mutual fears and desires concerning globalization and its social and economic outcomes.



Ornament

In 1908 modernist architect Adolf Loos made a case against ornament in his manifesto Ornament and Crime. His argument was that ornament is economically inefficient and "morally degenerate", and that reducing ornament was a sign of progress. Is ornament not beautiful?

Being a child of postmodernism, I feel somewhat conflicted by the opposing notions of beauty. My thoughts about ornament oscillate between that of a sumptuous sanctity of beauty and superfluous crap. My skepticism of manmade beauty stems from the daily bombardment of images and objects that have been studied and refined to fit my specific demographic and price point. At times it seems that beauty is only a formula for enticing consumption. We also consume ideas as well as products.

The larger scale and pristine surfaces in my work are reminiscent of public sculpture. Unlike public sculpture, my work incorporates ornament and the figure by reconfiguring and distorting them in order to build sculptures that convey an irrationality of form without regard for setting or context. Figures are often shorn off unexpectedly or joined in a strange and grotesque manner. It is this overlay of the rational and irrational, the beautiful and the grotesque, that most interests me.

Historically, public sculptures serve to commemorate or adorn with an underlying ideology or paradigm e.g. (monuments to political figures, war heros or saints). I am removing ornamental sculpture from its original context of beautifying a building or symbolizing an idea and reorienting it into a freestanding sculptural object. The majority of these sculptures are devoid of recognizable attributes of specific individuals and in doing so question traditional notions of fame and greatness.

We form society collectively but experience it individually. In this aspect, the work is also an open-ended question concerning how we as individuals fit into the larger context of society.