Reverent, 2001

Reverent is the fruit of a conglomeration of influences: a recent stay in Italy and the events of September 11th being the most significant. The body itself reflects a shift in my direction, and therefore can almost be split into a ‘before’ and ‘after’.

As Italy is steeped in religious history, I was prompted upon my return to the States to examine where American values of religion and history lie. I unfortunately found little evidence of either in my experience, and the result was the satirical work of “Modern Icons”. I felt both fascination and disgust for the American equivalent of sculpture one may find in a church in Italy: rows upon rows of mass-produced Mary statues on sale. I also went on to explore a truly American take on religion – the Paradise Gardens of the Reverend Howard Finster.

After September 11th, I found more evidence of hateful and materialistic attitudes: attacks on people who appeared Middle Eastern, urges that the best thing we can do right now is to buy, buy, buy. I wanted to feel a connection to something that couldn’t be for sale. At that time, I realized that the most effective route for me would be not to repeatedly highlight the flaws I see in my country and experience, but to set forth an example of the change I would like to see. To project the positive rather than endlessly stir up the criticism.

The Mandala series became the first evidence of this new direction – a focus and celebration on family, country, womanhood and religion. All of these themes have been present in my work in some form or another since this late point of 2001.