My work can be separated into two main groups: tableaux and collections. These two categories, although visually distinct, are for me linked by a connection in each to narrative.  I am inherently a storyteller and through my work I try to map experience as a way to gain better understanding of others and myself.

The Tableaux:
These developed when I grouped individual figures on stagelike platforms and relationships formed through their proximity.  The resulting landscape of characters is intended to have familiar essences that contrast with the inherent oddness of a crowded curio-cabinet. A narrative materializes that can provide the frustration and satisfaction of deciphering puzzles.

Stories from childhood are main components.  The Grimm Brothers collide with cullings from television and unpopular comics my parents would buy for my sisters and me on summer vacation.  The stories merge with my own experience into semifictional vignettes.

With the tableaux it’s often a matter of my perceiving signifiers during the making and noting which are personal, which are cultural and which are both.  Seeing connections previously hidden among them constitutes a kind of reward.  If the viewer makes connections, either specific to content or in appreciating the approach, I think the work and I have joined a community in a constructive sense.

The Collections:
This more recent category of my work also originated with groupings.  I began by organizing fabricated objects in the style of a still life.  I meant for the arrangements to resemble contents of a "cabinet of curiosity" or maybe one’s aunt’s china hutch.  By making believable but fake collectibles and then abstractions of them or others, I tried to create a distortion of fiction and fact: a perspective where memory and experience merge with imagination.  It was the fabrication and arrangement of these items in the manner of an imagined collector that led to the creation of the Mudmaid Museum, an installation at Creative Electric’s Art Boat, a floating exhibition space in Minneapolis.

Love of storytelling and history shapes my curiosity about how the past is depicted.  I’m fascinated by the passive way that many accept information about current and historic events.  When visiting a museum, most people receive the material presented uncritically, as the true image of the past.  By emphasizing the possibility that what is offered may be incomplete, biased or false, my intention is to remind an audience to be critical of facts from any authority.

The Mudmaid installation was not only an invented history but composed of artifacts that were fakes of what they represented.  All of the items in the installation were made from porcelain: books, woodcarvings, photos, rag dolls, diaries, letters, horns, figureheads, a sightseeing viewer, whisker oil bottles, etc.

History as taught to me in public school was an account of eents surrounding elite Europeans and their colonial offshoots.  They were presented as a complete picture but biases and omissions gradually became apparent, and with the realization came a kernel of indignation. There is no truth to the mudmaids, to their existence in myth, only a request that the viewer ask questions beyond the museum.

 

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