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A Maker’s Confession
5/25/18 – 6/27/18
We, in the Western world, often bemoan contemporary material culture and consumerism—too many choices, too much clutter, and too many things in our closets. Certainly, the pitfalls of an overabundance of material goods raises moral, ethical, and social questions about the human condition. Christianity, for example, often urges us to focus on spiritual matters and not on the material world. Yet in reality humans by their very nature are object makers (including works of art) that express and reflect their cultural vision—and that, among other things, material culture provides cultural adhesion—a set of shared images and objects through which norms, religious beliefs, and values are transmitted.
Initially, my work was influenced by religious material culture too, especially by a type of ex voto, or prayer offering commonly known as a milagro (miracle). However, over the years some of the more obvious connections between milagros and my work have waned and shifted toward a broader inquiry into the visual manifestation of prayer. But what has remained constant is a vernacular manner of working, utilizing common materials and a DIY approach to art making, reflecting both idiosyncratic contemporary art making practices and how many people actually live their faith.
While organized religions have prescribed rituals, doctrines, and visual traditions, the manner in which people actually practice and express their faith often differs from institutional doctrine. This is especially true in America where religious beliefs are often cobbled together from a variety of sources or practices. As such, people live their beliefs through various forms of personalized expressions, outside of, or as an extension of organized religious practices—and in some cases, interpret doctrine in unorthodox ways. This independent and DIY approach to faith and religious expression is embedded in the historic fabric of American culture, and is still very much alive today—and is reflected in my art making practices which often blends aspects of both religious material culture and popular culture.
Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of Postmodernism is that it has allowed for a more open discussion about the relationship between art and religion—a topic largely ignored by Modernism. But over the past fifteen or twenty years, there have been a growing number of artists, art historians, and critics re-engaging with the arts and religion and exploring what this means for Contemporary art and artists. As a contemporary artist, I am interested in participating in the current dialogue between art and religion (Christianity) through a fusion of contemporary artistic strategies, religious material culture, and popular culture.