The body of work that I am currently exploring is inspired by the literal visual forms brought to mind by the idiomatic phrase “the birds and the bees.” Utilizing this reference to sexual reproduction, I expand its meaning and form to speak more of the entire lifecycle: birth, life, and death. The large scale sculptures/installations make reference to points within the lifecycle, gender, human anatomy (both physical and psychological) as well as social institutions including religion and science. Furthermore, the work utilizes all of the viewers’ senses; beyond the visual encounter I wanted the audience to experience smell, sound, touch and taste as they maneuver through the fabricated environment. My aim is to create a physiological effect for the viewer where familiar forms such as a greenhouse, bee apiaries, or a group of birds on a wire take on new meaning and thereby create a new and unique encounter for the viewer.
The individual sculptures, which are made from a variety materials including glass, wood, plastic, dead bees, trees, wax and bird decoys, are arranged in space to create a specific pathway through which the viewer travels. The origin of this path begins with the greenhouse form which encompasses a narrow hallway and smells of fertile soil and freshly cut wood. To me, this piece represents the birth canal as well as the nurturing environment created by the mother figure. After passing through this piece, the viewer approaches racks of test tubes which contain single honeybees, and I included magnifying lamps to encourage the viewers to examine the specimens more carefully. Arranged in a manner which suggests a DNA plot and some sort of research, the phallic shape of the test tube and the contained bee, represent the male reproductive system.
The next section of work is composed of wooden apiaries which conceal a speaker system playing a sample of Buddhist chanting. This bass heavy sound source vibrates the wooden structures as well as creating a physical feeling in the chest. Paired with an arrangement of bird decoys and video projection, I wanted to allude to the time experienced between birth and death. While the apiaries represent a working society with hierarchal underpinnings, the decoys and video reference a dream state or environment free of control.
For the final section of this installation I created a bird form from blown glass that was filled with honey which leaks from its anus. Surrounding this perched bird on the floor is a series of wire and wax forms that suggest hive remnants or pollen on a macro level. This area of the work represents death. Whereas the bird makes reference to the soul, and the leaking honey speaks of resurrection, the pollen forms represent the remains of the body: the remnant of that which was.
Although some of the symbolic references which I make may be cryptic, or historically obscure, the need for some sort of esoteric knowledge is not necessary to truly experience my work. My goal is to create metaphors from familiar forms that encourage the viewer to take a second look and consider the underlying meaning of abstract concepts. By deciphering my own internal symbolism I hope to present forms which resonate within my shared cultural experience.