box, bread, space, tool, painting, performance, place

I am a visual narrative

I am the cultural product I inhabit

I am the culture I critique

I am the culture I create

I am studies of the grey/gray space in between

I am nostalgia of places I have never been

I am a memory of the places I want to go

 

We live in an age of consumerism, wherein people are quick to buy easy and cheap products.  This rapid and frivolous consumption often seeks to satisfy what is missing. Since the advent of the industrial revolution, consumerism drives the pace of life. We move further away from being connected to the ecosystems and the ability to be self-sustainable on our individual journeys.

What we now call “sustainable” is less than what it essentially means: the ability to take care of and provide for ourselves in the most basic human ways (food production and preparation, shelter and furniture construction etc.)  The environment is continually deteriorating, our landfills are full, and our natural resources depleted. Due to this age of consumerism and the lack of knowledge of sustainability, we now find ourselves in a state of economic and ecological crisis. My work spans the creation of discrete sculptural objects, tactile functional furniture and boxes to large scale integrative installations and site specific performance projects. Through my work, both material and conceptual, I investigate physical interactions, visceral, sensory, tactile, emotional experiences in art and life as it relates to personal, artistic and ecological sustainability.

 

Everything around us is relevant; the objects collected in an art piece or within one’s home are all part of the experience. Textures, sounds, the arbitrary existence of something or its absence in that space collectively contribute to an individual’s experience of ‘space’ and hence, life.  What is the value of our lived experience as it relates to art as a daily practice?  What metaphorical connotation does a chair have at a table versus a bench? What historical relevance do certain objects hold in our memory and why are they important to our present or future?  Is the texture, finish or design of objects within a space significant in our relationship to that space? How does it enhance or detract from our sensory experience, influence our memory or the quality of our lives?  I am fascinated by how people move through their personal spaces, and how it is a direct reflection of how they move through their lives. I am working to understand the psychophysical connection people have to the spaces they inhabit, or rather the culture of how we understand our body in space.  This information translates into my current work with performing installations. Movement through constructed environments encourages audiences to observe and or engage with the materials and their histories/stories and the complicated nature of our gendered spaces and body politics.  I am working to create a multisensory experiences through installation and audience engagement to contemplate the value of everyday rituals and materials in a gallery setting encouraging the audience to occupy the spaces in familiar and unfamiliar ways.  Familiarity through multiple senses elicits the power of memory, personal stories and re-connection, engaging seemingly disparate groups in diverse commonalities.  This process of creating, constructing and deconstructing is an engaged, critical frame for articulating assumptions, perspectives and power dynamics; how we reflect and also create society. Interaction with my installations and objects installed are encouraged to offer a deeply considered, connected experience with art.

 

Evaluating these broader concepts in my work and reflecting on my childhood growing up in rural North Carolina, I am conscious of the inseparability of food, home, rituals and daily life as art practices. My relationship to food connects to the environment--cultural interactions typical of lower socio-economic southern families and self-preservation (gardening, baking, preserving). Living in urban areas for the past five years issues of access, social justice, health and sensory experience of food began integrate in my artistic inquiry. Over the past year I have committed myself to deeper investigations surrounding food as a reflection of cultural values and artistic engagement. I have researched beekeeping and practiced at gardening, cooking, bread making and cheese making. This process highlights the relevance of the performance in practices and rituals and their connection to our constructed identities such as gender, race, class and sexuality. My work, while it crafts a “finished” product, the material substrate includes evolve intersubjective human interaction.  These explorations focus the lens upon the specific experience of my Southern upbringing by excavating place to explore both memory and spectacle. Through this excavation and research, my artistic inquiry initiates and interrogates gender assumptions around domestic and manual labor practices. These recent explorations feature sculptural tool studies in lard, soil, building materials, flour and cornmeal- offering the opportunity to experience familiar everyday objects in new and critical ways, thereby challenging assumptions of both form and function.

 

  Cathy O’Keefe, from her article Culture as a Guidepost for a Balanced Life, invokes the spirit of William James, the father of American psychology who “advanced the idea that we can’t think our way into a new kind of living; rather, we must live our way into a new kind of thinking.”  My artistic practice blurs boundaries of viewer/artist, promoting participation and exploring ideas of ecological design and sustainability in our lives, relevant to human wellness and vibrant cultural progress, to create spaces for critically reshaping our tools (perceptual and material) necessary to manifest art as a lived experience.   I am particularly interested in the intersection of political and aesthetic discourses through understanding art as Social Practice. Social practice can be the animation of both aesthetic and social fields with emphasis on collaboration, efficacy, intelligibility, freedom, collectivity and action. Art though this lens has the capacity to integrate considerations of urban planning and our built environments, social and environmental policy, histories, economies and sustainable food practices to foster collective and embodied change in communities.

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