While mortality and illness are typically deemed “taboo” subjects in contemporary North American society, I must admit, not a day goes by where my many irrational fears (including but not limited to spiders, sinkholes and tidal waves), contemplations on the afterlife, or the memory of a near-death incident don’t consume my thoughts or actions for a great measure of time.
In order to speak about the intangible subject of mortality through my work, I have come to use more symbolic means of addressing the subject. Humor and kitsch in my photography, as well as the use of naïve, childhood craft materials and folk art methods help such weighty subject matter become accessible to the audience.
D. W. Winnicott once said, “it is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers self.” But while I encourage the notion of play and cultivate creativity and discovery through childhood craft alongside my photography, my work also nods to the innovative works of Friedrich Froebel, creator of Kindergarten in early 19th century Germany. Froebel stated that his lessons, which stressed more serious experimentation with simple forms, tools and the study of nature’s geometry “intended to be nothing less than a model of universal perfection and the key to recognizing one’s place in the natural continuum.”
It is through combinations of play and tedium, simplicity and sophistication, study and intuition, and the use of varied media and cultural signposts that my work has become a meditative study toward the greater goals of Froebel’s Kindergarten as well as my musings of mortality.