I want to make vernacular work in a way that isn’t ironic and I’m not embarrassed when my kitsch shows. In the past I worked primarily in painting, photography, and performance, but I’ve been obsessively developing the volatile, sculptural collage technique of the “memory jug” since 2014. The endless layering has been a consistent feature of my work over the last decade, but in the sculptures the process of burying found and collected objects in concrete has given the palimpsest a material anchor. The memory jugs are a scrapbook of my failures, anxieties, and dreams. They are grave markers dedicated to mental illness and alcoholism, but they are more about healing than grieving, and they owe much of their power to magical thinking.
“Magical thinking is not itself a mental illness,” it’s an animator, a meaning-machine, an interpreter of signs.” Magical thinking assigns cause where none can be shown, associates events and objects through sympathy and contagion, and welcomes miracles, divinations, and reliquaries for the reverent. It slips between the cracks and illuminates the places where we need to heal.
In a 2003 performance and installation, I symbolically buried myself so that I could come back and go about the everyday living on as an artist. I knew that shedding my skin and the death of my parents at 27 was ludicrous, but it has taken much longer to recognize that my work isn’t about the dead, it’s about the living. The fragments aren’t shattered, isolated pieces, they are part of a longer narrative: The beer bottles I drank alone in the middle of the night and subsequently transformed into art are part of the work I’ve been imagining since I was 12. They are mystical artifacts linking distant places and times, organizing the traumatic and poetic fragments of a bipolar mania.
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