Human beings, against our most desperate efforts, experience the thirst for satisfaction that often feels unquenchable. Although many struggle with this facet of our humanity, we have the unique capability of finding contentment outside of ourselves. Expressing this paradox through contemporary figurative sculpture is the primary function of my studio practice.
Using digital fabrication technology and traditional carving techniques I discuss contemporary issues of humanity. Before beginning a new sculpture I consider people who I have relationships with, and work to create a sculpture that expresses their personal struggles and hopes. From there I 3D scan that person in a posture that begins to embody their experiences, then digitally manipulate the scan before 3D printing it. In the sculpture, “Oh, That We Would Know Where Abundance Is Found”, I worked from a close friend of mine who was struggling with finding his identity in material wealth. For this piece I wanted the figure to be suspended from the ceiling as if he was in mid fall. I scanned him lying backwards over a bench. From there I digitally modified the form by rotating the figure, removing the bench, embedding a high fashion sneaker on his foot, and creating vertical beams that rose from his body. Working from a 3D printed model, I glue up hundreds of blocks of wood and rough out the form with a chainsaw. From this gesture I use chisels to hand carve the significant information of the figure and add important symbolic elements. While these elements, such as the sneakers, appear to be found objects, they are actually trompe l’oeil sculptures created from wood as well. Unlike the figures, the materiality of these symbols is displaced to create additional narrative weight. In my previous series, I exposed the incompleteness that human beings experience by leaving negative spaces within the torsos of each sculpture. My newer works have vertical movement and extensions that imply upward movement. This transcendence, appearing almost as pixels being pulled out from the figure, functions to communicate our ability to find hope beyond our present circumstances.
My investment in contemporary, narrative portraits requires engaging with the figure in a unique way. Utilizing digital fabrication technology allows me to digitally manipulate the figure while retaining its identity. Fully realizing these figures through traditional wood-carving practices leaves behind my hand, expressing the time and care taken in communicating each form. This practice, where parts of the figure become summarized or even abstracted, lead to a complex narrative work. In expressing different experiences with despair and hope, I am unifying perspectives of what it means to be human.