This exhibition was the first I had made work for after moving to Lincoln, NE. Featured was Science Project, Western Code, Looking at The Sun, and Chasid In The Woods. These works explored the newfound freedom from moving to the Midwest, as well as the increased awareness of my othered-ness in middle America.
Made on a cold January day, I dragged my wife Nancy, our daughter Nina, and our dog Yoshi outside before school to stand in front of my work van to be photographed. The composition pays homage to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” in presenting our new lives as Midwestern Americans. Standing in front of my work van, this photograph presents the reality of the many roles one has to take on to work as an artist.
“Science Project,” is an 11-foot kinetic sculpture of 80 beach balls that whirl around a central moving pole, like a perpetual motion device. Referencing the formal qualities of atomic models made in science class, this piece operates as its own science project exploring elements of color, space, time, gravity, and motion as a way to effect the participant and pull them out of their heads. “Science Project” seeks to give its audience a sense of grounding, and bring an awareness to the now. The viewer’s experience here is vital. Its bright colors and whimsical movement evoke a feeling of euphoria and optimism. The constant whirring of the mechanical elements creates gentle wind and a white noise, further drawing the viewer’s attention to their current surroundings. The combined effect of these sensorial features provides an opportunity to bring the viewer back into their body, and out of their minds; to bring their attention to the present moment.
Western Code is a series of 39-colored pencil drawings of the “qwerty” keyboard in its entirety. This piece explores the building blocks of language, fabricated using seemingly abstract symbols that derive significance from the cultural lens they are viewed through.
Part drawing and part sculpture, “Looking at the Sun” plays with the concept of the Sublime to investigate our primal need to create and reaction to the power of nature. The figure gazes up at the yellow bands, and treats them with the reverence and wonder of a power beyond itself. The simplified color bands act as a stand-in for the sun, pared down to its radiating color, alluding to our simplified understanding of the natural world around us. This piece looks at this majesty and relates it to the act of inspiration.
“Chasid in the Woods,” is a portrait of me, naked in the wood of Nebraska, with a six-month beard, pais curls hanging down the sides of my face, and a typical Orthodox Jewish hat. Held over my genitals is a book that alludes to a religious text. Upon moving to Nebraska, I had also noticed that my identity, in particular my Jewishness, was more pronounced here. It made me feel a bit guarded like I was perhaps playing a role. I was also aware that anti-Semitism and xenophobia were on the rise worldwide. Since the Holocaust, Jews were finally living in a relative state of peace—we even had a Homeland. I began to wonder if things were about to change politically. I felt like a Jew alone in the woods.
“Dandelion” is at its core a statement on spirituality. Through its immense scale, high detail, and delicacy it asks the viewer to see this weed as an example of the Sublime and experience the awe inspiring beauty of nature. This piece in earnest positions even the societally denigrated dandelion as an example of the majesty of the natural world.