Conceptually, my work stands on two working thoughts. At its core, I am investigating words of comfort and how obsessive repetition of affirmations push phrases into meaningless distraction and the realm of the banal. As this investigation manifests, I also challenge the gallery and arts institution, and permit direct viewer interaction with the works to the point of destruction. In addition, the installations act as a social experiment with the viewers. As I investigate breaking points, the viewer’s fear of irreparable damage comes to light. By permitting the taboo destruction of memory-triggering objects, each audience member is reached on a level that triggers primal emotions of panic, jubilation, and curiosity. In past works, incorporating items that reference family memories, such as Christmas ornaments, mailing envelopes or letters, photographs, and other keepsake materials, allows for the viewer to contribute their own prior experiences with family, regardless of sentiment, to each work. The culmination of the viewers’ actions leave behind chaotic detritus and residue, which forces myself as the artist to respond clinically to repair, categorize, and re-display the results.
Each site-specific work exists in two phases: first as an installation that is performance-based relying on viewer interaction and manipulation, and second as a displayed piece that documents the results of that performance. The performance process of creating each piece is integral to their final presentation. It is important to me to allow for the removal of myself from the breakdown of each installation, as I want to permit unpredictable or chaotic outcomes. Placing the mark-making process into the hands of the viewers removes my prior notions of how the piece should appear, further connecting the cyclical nature of words of reassurance and the loss of control. After the installation is completed, I process the works and re-display their results in a clinical or traditional gallery setting, representing my constant urge to fix broken connections and regain a sense of normalcy. These final works represent the destructive path of emotional avoidance, and encourage an open loss of control.