Spending time on my work I am too often drawn to the question...Where does this come from?
The ideas, materials, skills and efforts are used to what purpose?
The pieces I create are an attempt at visual storytelling. These stories usually involve a common theme.
The medium is used to express the humanity of a lost, suppressed population. Lost not only in the sense that they are without direction, rather lost by public intent and subconscious suppression. Subjects once heralded as educational, entertaining and unique are currently inventoried and institutionalized.
Vanished from the public eye the forgotten celebrities of sideshows, museums and carnivals are no longer free to participate in the traditional lifestyle. This option is gone with the dawn of our "Modern Times", that systemically protects the likes of performing elephants and humans alike
Society dictates strict social codes that insulate the public and isolate (quarantine?) the sideshow performer.
This segregation serves a societal purpose of muting or suppressing consciousness while masking the truth of a common conscience. Out of sight out of mind.
In a society that grows increasingly obese, tattooed and pierced, the norm of "Unusual" is often difficult to define or even fabricate.
I attempt to speak for my subjects through the work. My efforts are intended to be provocative tributes, even when they stimulate controversy, evoke emotions and primal feelings. The audience may sometimes find the truth difficult to digest, express or categorize.
Controversy and the function that serve humanity and societal mores are evidenced in the same tension created by the display of the original performers who Educated and Entertained on the Midway. So my goal is to further the spirit of their purpose through the truth and integrity of the work.
There have always existed exceptional individuals.
I use mostly antique wood (often over 150 years old and usually 28+ inches wide). These boards are fashioned into relief panels that are later polychromed.
When I carve and craft the panels and polychrome the relief, it causes me to wonder if perhaps I am somehow predisposed to do so evolving from a line that may have included ancient Ukrainian Icon artists? A dog knows how to retrieve a stick or bird. A salmon returns to the site of birth. A pigeon flies back to home roost. Is there some spirit that guides my hand when I reach an instant in creating a thing that "abe" doesn't have the skill, ability or knowing to accomplish?
Will the simple honestly of the truth sometime reach out and speak to someone through my efforts?
I will only add that my intention is to create honest work that serves good and elevates a universal spirit. If the viewing audience experiences another result, it is my sincere hope that they be educational and entertaining in their critique.