Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bearded Men

As I gear towards creating the 7th, and final, "Bearded Man" sculpture, I realize that I have been stewing on their meaning long enough. As much as I often hate writing about my work, there seems like no better time to do it than now.

Unlike a lot of my previous works, there is much less of a narrative here- at least in the traditional sense. Of course, there was a literal starting point- something happened that quite literally brought me to the imagery of bearded men. This particular instance brought me to the exploration stage, where I obsessively made drawings.

At this point, all I needed to do was to get these images out. What I didn't realize yet, though, was that I was building up a vocabulary for a greater purpose.

I started thinking a lot about what beards are symbolically. And no, I don't mean the privilege to wear skinny jeans, smell of patchouli, and rush out of a Brooklyn apartment in hopes that I can snag a $10 latte and still be on time for work. I mean in the traditional sense.

I got a little stuck between two different meanings that I could not stop thinking about: one where a beard signifies some kind of falsehood or secret, and one where it signifies wisdom and experience.

In a strange sort of way, it made me think a lot about the work I make, and the way I make work. Here I am, snagging materials off the streets and out of the garbage, dragging them into my studio, and wrangling them to make my art. I've written on this format before about what my attraction to found material is- which, for those only tuning in now, is an opportunity to say the things I want to say while giving a second life to the materials that already seem so damned interesting to me.

It is this second life that got me realizing that some of what makes these materials so beautiful is the mystery. Who left them there, What were they used for, How did they get this beautiful while being so mundane? It was probably about then that I realized that I would never actually know the answers to these questions, but that I still felt some kind of responsibility to ask anyway. And with that, I created the "Bearded Man" series.

After stalking a particularly interesting piece of wood for a few months on the walk to my studio, I finally dragged it in. It was seven feet, so I cut it into seven equal pieces and would ONLY use those seven pieces for this project. And with, I began to visualize all of the unanswered questions I had, realizing that the answers perhaps didn't matter so much. 

An open mouth, with a locked door and no key. No way to access the verbiage one might be looking for, but somehow that's all well and good.  

Until next time.