Beneath their seemingly placid exteriors, the common objects we live with have the power to trigger both deep-seated memories and a wide range of often contradictory emotions. In the Once Familiar series, I transform some of these ordinary items that populate our world, imbuing them with surreal, dreamlike qualities. My artwork is a platform to explore these conceptual interests, as well as a means of investigating issues of materiality and craftsmanship, including processes such as metal casting, sculptural blacksmithing, mixed media drawing, found object assemblage, and 3D printing.
In numerous freestanding and wall mounted works from the Once Familiar series, I have reimagined an institutional school desk. School desks are vehicles for enriching students through the educational process, as well as symbols of our soul-crushing socialization apparatuses. I find this duality identity of the school desk infinitely appealing, as the blankness of this object and its symbolic authority makes it ripe for transformation through the use of humor, personal narrative, and the intriguing dialogue of various sculptural materials.
The largest sculpture in this series, Hyper-trophy, is an installation comprised of forged tree branches, steel diamond plate leaves, and attenuated, lathe-turned acorns mounted on cast rubber hunting trophies. This group of branches have previously been displayed on walls painted red, a color meant to evoke the atmosphere of a trophy room or cabinet of curiosity, as well as on more neutral or muted backgrounds. As this piece continues to evolve with various finishing and display methods, I have enjoyed updating the recognizable format of trophy and specimen to symbolically reflect the universal experience of nature gone awry.
The final works in this series, the Memory Vessels, are three-dimensional self-portraits ruminating on my own sense of mortality and the passage of time. These works take their title from the folk-art tradition of gathering and organizing personal memorabilia on pots, jugs, and other utilitarian containers. I’ve updated this genre to the 21-st century by utilizing a variety of contemporary materials, including 3D printed plastic, epoxy putty, hot glue, and vinyl paint. These finished Memory Vesselsare displayed on both individual pedestals and custom-built plywood crates, the latter of which references caskets, cenotaphs, or places of burial, which helps to further reinforce my interest in our cultural methods of memorialization.