I have been using toys in my work ever since I noticed the incredible prevalence of violence and military weapons displayed so fancifully on toy store shelves in the mid 1990s. I found myself attracted to them not only for the shortcuts they offered in deconstructing society, but to create my own language. Toys are powerful symbols which can connect to all areas of our adult lives, and they allow us to approach difficult topics with greater ease. As violence and militarism expands, I cannot let go of this primal language, nor of the urgent pacifist and political themes.
F a i r y t a l e s I n t e r r u p t e d, 2001
This was my first solo show in the spring of 2001 where I set about trying to explore the political aura of toys, and to unravel the violence and militarism woven into the fabric of daily life. Male and female-geared toys were treated as archetypes, collaged, and 'interrupted' within the concept of fairytales and national identities.
M a s k s a n d A c t i o n H e r o e s , 2003 and 2016
By 2003 world events and the postures of our leaders led to the idea that masks would be the perfect extension of the toy metaphor in illustrating adult struggles. The masks were not used to comment on actual people so much as the nature of the media and public personas, the mystery that lies behind power, as well as the increasing hollowness of some of our political symbols. The action heroes likewise symbolized democratic ideals that have been reduced to diminutive comic book figures. Today, in the context of the 2016 election season, the use of masks and action heroes feels just as appropriate, if not more so.
C o n s p i r a c y T h e o r i e s , 2004 -
Of course all this concern with the secrecy of the government and media theatrics leads one into the dreaded territory of Conspiracy Theories. As we struggle to sort through all the information, misinformation, and disinformation, as well as the increasing responsibilities of day to day life, it seems inevitable that we make a few winding turns. But at least those on the winding turns are trying to scratch the official fairytale version of things. I like to imagine grand scientific theories are touched upon through the haphazard interplay and pile up of toys. An essay will accompany the mural size images trying to make the connections between war, mental cognition, environmental degradation, chaos and complexity theories.
S n o w G l o b e s a n d C a n d y B o x, 2006 -
In this series I make my own anti-war toys. I cut, file down or drill into plastic toy soldiers and then place them in gentle settings such a snow jar or capsule. I then photograph or film as I handle the objects with gloved hands. It is my way of trying to get at the heart of darkness of the military industrial complex, and asking the simple question, How will we ever heal? The need for gloves indicates the sensitivity of the feelings the objects unleash. But it is a pain that is verging on the cartoon, as it is so deeply hidden from most of our day to day lives, and as it seems impossible to shake the whimsical nature of the toy soldiers. The only way seems to be to indulge even further into the cognitive dissonance by placing the objects in candy boxes, and installing music box movements inside the larger globes. The work consists of prints, the actual objects, as well as a series of animations, which are in progress. Please click here for a preview.
S o u v e n i r D o l l s , N Y, 2008 -
This photomontage series features souvenir dolls from all over the world in out of the way locations of the big apple. On the most immediate level they celebrate differences and traditions that may eventually be lost. Anyone who has ever felt like an alien inside one's skin might identify with their call to slow down. As the series progresses, however, more uneasy questions emerge. Gentrification, post-industrialization, loss of nature, all converge to make us wonder what it is we consider progress.
C o u n t r y L i v i n g , 2016
This vintage Barbie play home makes the perfect backdrop for the Mexican Day of the Dead Bride, as she wanders through the psychedelic American Dream.
All images are digitally printed with archival inks on archival paper.
Please do visit again soon for updates and to view new series in progress.