Manifest Destiny

 

Elephant mask de-wrinkled

I don’t pull ideas out of thin air; I need a trigger. Sometimes, it’s a two-dimensional picture of something that I imagine in three dimensions. Sometimes, as with the elephant mask, it’s started as a real photograph, and the process becomes transforming  a photo into something more stylized  but with more presence than a photograph has.

The mask is made from welded 14 gauge mild steel, coated with urethane primer and enamel. The torso is also welded steel, as is the base. The “ground” is bleached rice hulls mixed with adhesive and pressed into place like cookie dough, dotted with various items of trash. The clothing: what does this represent, anyway?

I was thinking about the way the Chinese are mounting a full-scale economic assault on Africa, to ensure a steady supply of resources and to create alliances and client states. Of course the hoary old “wolf in sheep’s clothing” saying came to mind, except in my concept it’s a dragon. EM head closeup

The name tag is shorthand Chinese for “Manifest Destiny”. Literally it means something like “the mandate of heaven”

The stitching on the mask is animal sinew used in leather work and yes, it was a pain in the ass to do. I had to MIG weld two needles together to get one long enough….not a task for the impatient.

IMG_4075

The eyes are Hu Jintao’s.

The concept has changed from the original idea to something more political. My attitude toward my art is similar to that of my music: it should say something about our world. I have little patience for genres like abstract expressionism. What the hell does a Jackson Pollack piece say about the world? What critics and “experts” see in it? I see a mess. If it has to be interpreted for us, so that we can appreciate it, have little use for it. Sorry.

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