I was born in East Bakersfield California, a burning red dot in an otherwise blue state. Surrounded by mountains obscured by smog gifted from both Northern and Southern California. Each year finishing among the top 3 in worst air quality, highest unemployment rate, as well as obesity rate. It is a depressed city. Most of my childhood was spent helping my father on the roofs breaking my back stapling shingles to the tops of homes much nicer then the one is was raised in. Early on I began to question the need to labor for others even though what was given as compensation rarely seemed enough. My father fractured his back after a fall from a roof and went to work the next day. He believed in God and work. His cancer manifested itself in the form of a large goiter that protruded out of his body while squeezing tight around his vocal cords. As he grew ill he never lost faith in his creator. He only thanked him for the pain and fought through each day.
I am trying make sense of my father’s suffering in relation to my current physical state. I am working on a series of sculptures that deal with my emotional response to a large fatty mass that is growing on my 5th and 6th vertebrate. The “Mass,” unlike my father’s, is not life threatening or cancerous, yet it has forced me to divert much of my thoughts towards my mortality. I have zero control over why it is growing, and what caused it to grow. We cannot control those secret, tiny things that grow inside of us. They are a weight. A burden. They make us feel week, and ugly. They kill us. They make us feel strong. They are the things that we must overcome, and also give over to. They are the loss of control that “the controlled” desire. These tiny little things come from us, and latch onto us. They cannot be seen, until they can only be seen. In a broader sense, what I seek is answers as to the reasons why some are chosen to suffer, and some are not. It is like the tornado that sweeps through a small town destroying some houses, yet missing others.
The correlation between the worker, the reason he/she works, and faith is my central trope. Drawing from the book of Job (the suffering book in the Old Testament), and personal history, I am searching for ways to represent those who work in servitude to their creator, and use faith as form of escapism. It is the belief in a higher power, a trust that though we are suffering that God will reward us in the after-life that keeps us locked in our existence. Remove ones focus from the afterlife and they will be confronted with their reality. A reality, most often steeped in a realization that God has not provided much more than a way for us to bare the force of our misery ,and at the end of the day be thankful for what we have. Belief in Gods need for us to suffer, or need to test our faith acts as a tether keeping us from pushing forward even though we are working hard enough to deserve movement.
Formally speaking, I am attempting to depict internal growth that has forced it’s way through the surface. I use wax to represent fat, or tumors. I use wood, and other industrial materials to represent body. With the sewn pieces I am stripping down janitor uniforms and reconstruction them as cancerous growths. These growths hang as a dark cloud overhead. I see each sculpture as a portrait. I want the viewer to draw connections between the material and the person who uses that material to earn a living. By deconstructing uniforms, or encasing a tool in a fatty mass I hope that the viewer sees the person who is not there. When one sees a chair they think of a body, when one sees a mop bucket do they think of the janitor? Does a hammer equal builder? Or can a spatula personify a fast food worker?