My work traffics heavily in material symbolism. I make sculptures which combine traditional woodworking methods, digital fabrication and found objects with video and animation to explore the myths of the Manifest Destiny and the Wild West. I make physical objects that embody not only my deep ambivalence around my familial history but also my personal attraction to and rejection of American mythology. Enigmatic and corporeal, these objects hover between the spaces of architecture and sculpture; put otherwise, they oscillate between functional, performative, and static states, seeking to tackle the ego of American culture with both humor and rigor. Through woodworking, digital modeling, found objects, performance, drawing and conceptual building, I complicate and call into question multiple narratives of cosmology, ownership, and frontiers.
I grew up in rural Wyoming, awakening me at an early age to the sharp contrast between quotidian realities of daily life and the romantic idealization of the “Wild West.” For much of U.S. history, the West was an ordinal concept, an endless resource to compete with and stand in contrast with refined aspects of European culture, a blank canvas to be tamed with violence, or an escape route for self-reinvention. Despite the clear and harsh consequences of climate change, the realities of colonization and genocide (not to mention the inconveniently finite nature of natural resources), the idea of “the Frontier” retains a perennial popularity. The sculptural objects I make attempt to collapse utopian ideals of Frontierism and the consequences of its reality. By exploring personal interactions with topics as diverse as Judaism, feminist literature, space exploration, urban blight, new religious movements, and human/computer collaboration, I create situations where aesthetic, emotional, and rational truths compete for primacy. Works such as Funeral Pyre (2020) or Further West (2019) nod to the ad-hoc collection of symbols and ritual that form this constellation of “Americanness.”
I love the embodied meaning in objects that are collected or sourced. My work often includes comprehensive material lists, which give the sense that every object or material is included for symbolic purposes. My hope is that by listing the totality of the parts used in any given piece, there is a bit of alchemy that happens. The meaning of material is not just the shape of the whole object, but the embodied meanings of each individual object play with each other in a space. There is a difference between house paint and automotive paint, and house paint and a houseplant. This indexing allows space for the creation of meaning beyond the title and form of the artwork. It gives a peek into process without the explicit one-to-one mapping that happens with a full statement or artist talk, morphing impressionistic accumulations of single events or actions into a holistic understanding of an event or a place in time.