University of Minnesota
Through sculptural installations my work explores human understanding of the physical world including the tangible, as well as the psychological. My research investigates the evolution of ancient stories into contemporary myth. Humans will always search to explain the marvelous and strange. We live in a time when Greek mythology exists independently of the culture that originated it and the belief system that sustained it. This allows for adapting a figure from traditional mythology into a form the contemporary mind can understand. Through presenting an altered notion of the past, it provides a lineage into exploring current belief systems.
The resulting installations integrate video with sculptural elements to create space for moving images and physical materials to interact. The visual language plays between the static and the changing. My installation “Planes of
Existence” became an ambiguous construction rooted in literary and personal
encounters. Ambiguous in the sense that the work cannot answer any of the
questions it frames. The physical elements are symbols to represent the
In the dark gallery space stands Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of the Greek underworld. The monster’s middle head extends down to the shallow pool to drink water. Imagery projected onto the pool represents the moments one might expect after death. The four-minute looping video depicts transcending through a light tunnel leading to a river before taking the viewer back through the light tunnel. Cerberus drinking from the pool, not only physically connects the two objects, but also creates a visible tie between opposing spiritual worlds. Therefore, the touch of the tongue to the water is an encounter of contrasting and complimentary elements. A subtle ripple in the water originating at the tongue occurs several times a minute.
Though he is no longer regarded as the guardian of the dead, Cerberus remains an icon of fierceness, monstrosity, and physical mutation. My reason for using the hellhound is to represent the mythological character as a set of abstract concepts by expanding his current iconography. The dog’s presence allows viewers to think about the installation through ambiguous principles and values based on his demonic nature, rather than being confronted with a representation of a contemporary religious figure or god. The passage of time allows for his character to transmute and take on further significance. In this way, he becomes a metaphor for the complexity of the present by revealing something about the past.
My depiction complicates the figure’s fierce characterization through physical weaknesses to draw empathy from viewers. One paw is extremely small indicating deformity. The creature’s rib cage is also exposed to juxtapose the defined muscles. These unexpected features further complicate the notion of beast. The sculpture also implies the coexistence of multiple personalities. The dog’s heads portray a sense of one being wild, one suited to ensure survival, and one being tame. The greatest contrast exists between the two outer heads creating the paradoxical situation of good and evil.
The gaze from the head on the left side of the body directs the viewer’s attention to a small portal on the wall. The viewer peers through a clear circle in the black acrylic dome to reveal video of swirling green and blue liquid. The liquid swirls forward and backward, continuously, relating to the rhythm of breathing. The whirlpool serves as a metaphor for the implied internal turmoil of the dog, which is further suggested in the sculpture by using human eyes in the left-most head. Animals rely on instinct, rather than reason. The coexistence of moral dilemma in the sculpture relates to the contemporary self, allowing the viewer to relate to the notion of contradictions in the human mind.
All Things Truly Wicked Start From Innocence
Fawn or Foe
Untitled I - IV
Planes of Existence
Reliance (sinners and saints)
Untitled (Found Photograph)