Thursday, July 11, 2013

State of Grace, the triptych part 1

It occurs to me that I never discussed my thesis art works "State of Grace." I have made mention of them in past posts and I have even posted the story or imaginary myth associated with them but I have never given them their due.
In my last posts, Interview with a carver, I mentioned the back history of this triptych. How I created a narrative and artworks based on three undeveloped or partially developed ideas from my sketchbook.
"The Masquerade" is a chapter in my thesis, it describes the context in which I created "State of Grace".

The Masquerade
"My earliest memory of NWC art is a mask on the wall outside my parents’ bedroom in the basement of our duplex. I remember living in fear of the mask; the eyes were hollowed out, it had an evil crooked mouth and pencil thin eyebrows.
There was human hair on the mask and it made me uneasy because I assumed it came from a dead person. The mask was tilted down, so it always felt like this other-worldly being was staring down at me. Its gaze wasn’t drawing in images from the world, like a human gaze; instead, its gaze was like beams from a ray gun. The mask drew in the evil from the world and shot it out those eyes. I could feel the beams hitting my back when I rushed past it.
Through the art work I have made for my thesis project I want to capture this fear and abjection that I associated with NWC art as a child".

The artworks that make up State of Grace are; Saviour, Fall of Man and Punishment of the Grave.


The first art work in the series yet the second to be completed. The original idea for this piece came from a story I heard on the radio about how provincial cut backs led to over 500 children's deaths being un-investigated.
I felt it was really sad that no one cared to find out wether the children's deaths were natural or suspicious. And then I thought of a story a friend told me about how in his culture, if twins were born they would kill one because they thought one twin was evil. I felt that society viewed these children as unimportant, but that they had to be very important to someone.

The leap of creativity I made with this idea was that I thought, "what if these lost children had a guide to help travel from our world to one of the many heavenly dimensions."
This guide would have to be able to transform itself to live in more than one realm. This is how the idea of using a transforming figure came to be. I did a rough draft in my sketch book but it never got beyond this stage for years because I could never get it worked out in my head. I couldn't resolve it until brought it together with two other ideas into a single installation.

My original intention was to have the Saviour coming out of a wall grasping the twins, but then I saw this large wonderful hide and I knew I had to use it. The fleshy texture and colour, the fact that it looked so fragile but was actually tough and that this hide was originally intended as a drum made it perfect.
I really wanted to show the figure as part raven part man, thats why it is has a human face and the wings look like large hands.
The reason I chose to have him grasping the twins by the hair is that I wanted to create an ambiguity about his intentions, we know he is there to save them, the twins do not.
In the second part of this post I will write about the other art works and describe how a triptych can have four parts.