In attempts to articulate why I make the things I do, I shall begin by breaking things down into a few over-arching (and overlapping) categories. I should note, however, that the idea of categorical distinctions comes up quite frequently in my work - particularly in my desire to make works that simultaneously acknowledge and abolish such distinctions and the tensions therein. Nonetheless, I shall break things down, if only to weave them back together once more.
Three primary influences on my studio practice include biology, psychology, and theology. Each area of study functions on its own level yet all three find a common denominator in my work. They do so particularly in my dealings with the flesh, which signifies for me a meeting point for dualisms of all sorts. Flesh is a barrier, a wall, denoting interior from exterior (subject from object), yet it’s full of its own physical intricacies, hollows and bumps that muddle those very distinctions. The flesh is also the toughest and most sensitive of organs, a vessel through which we experience both the most painful and most pleasurable of sensations. I choose to work with the flesh because it’s what we all know best – it is a charged imagery to which every bodied being can relate on some level, be it physical, metaphorical, or metaphysical. “Man is the meeting point of two worlds.” (Nikolas Berdyaev)
My studio practice is rooted in the notion that a richness can be found in the blurry space between alternatives. Opposites exist, yes, but very rarely do we find them in isolation of the other. One may only exit a space, if first it is entered. A cup may only be emptied, if first it is filled. Relational verbs such as these are defined by their opposites and couldn’t exist without the other. “What is not there formed by what is. What is there formed by what is not.” (Bruce Hainley)
Herein lies the significance of casting processes in my work: positives shapes and negative spaces, constantly informing one another. I like to invert and/or blur the boundaries between these two states in attempts to evoke feelings of familiar ambiguity, comfortable tension, and reluctant desire.
Though I’m quite willing to acknowledge that the gaping orifices and protuberances in my work may become imbued with a certain pycho-sexuality, I’m much more interested in the existential opinion that the Freudian model is merely a localization of an original, ontological (and pre-sexual) fascination with holes. While the Freudian model speaks of an “original” hole that renders subsequent holes only metaphors, the existential model suggests that, in a sense, all holes plead obscurely to be filled. They are appeals to the triumph of the full over the empty, of existence over nothingness.
This recalls a symbolic notion of lack (“manqué”), which Jacques Lacan suggests is the root of all desire. C.S. Lewis speaks of a similar yearning to which he refers by the German word “sehnsucht.” He echoes both existentialists and theologians past when he admits, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for an other world.”
Søren Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism suggests that the universe is fundamentally paradoxical and that its greatest paradox is in the transcendent union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ. Not one or the other, but both. Opposite, yet the same. Now, but not yet. Christian theology (religiosity aside) is made up of conflicting, colliding, and coalescing alternatives that find their resolve in the oneness of Christ.
Thus physical oneness becomes a metaphor for spiritual oneness. Flesh acts as a metaphor, but is tangible nonetheless- at once a barrier and a carrier of both matter and meaning.