exile and pride, 2023
This work arose from the self-appointed challenge of exhibiting in school’s lobby space. I set out to create a piece that would use the features of the space to it’s benefit, yet not compromise my own interests and values as an artist. Using a life size human figure draws attention to the strange dimensions and angular weirdness of the staircase, accentuating it’s association to an Escherian labyrinth. The figure is positioned into an inbetween state, neither an insider or an outsider. It invites interpretations of both of the artists role in society, as well as connects to my personal history with illness and disability, which has sometimes resulted in conflicted relationships with aesthetic-first designed spaces, as well as stairs. Looking to be both surprising and humorous exploration of it’s difficult themes, the work makes exhibition viewer bend their neck into a uncomfortable position to view it in detail, or otherwise utilize their problem solving in how to best look at it – an experience uncommon for most able-bodied people in art exhibitions, yet mundanely normal for everybody existing in a nonstandard body. The work is made about 400 glued together individual pieces of salvaged oak and ash wood, sawn by the artist from waste hardwood deemed too crooked or flawed to be used in fine carpentry. The title of the work, “Exile and Pride”, refers to the title of the autobiography of a queer disability activist Eli Clare, where, among other things, he details the specific homesickness felt by a queer individual leaving his native rural town for a more liberal big city, and ending up feeling never fully understood in either.