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Bushes, 2002-2008

Over the past fifteen years my work has focused on, among other issues, notions of nature. Rather than treat this problem topographically, I am interested in imaginary or psychological constructions. In other words, how do we create meaning with the objects with which we surround ourselves? I view my studio as an arena to address the dynamic processes of what Barthes dubs "naturalization," asking how we define what is natural versus cultural, interior versus exterior.

My current work explores the interrelation of a number of paradoxes, woven together in a series of "knots." How is a notion of a utopia predicated upon that of a dystopia? How is it that we have nostalgia for places we have never visited? Such questions have prompted my recent constructions of artificial gardens in clay. In its materiality clay embodies references to the earth, while it acquires the status of cultural artifact through the process of firing. It thus straddles the seeming opposition between nature and culture, analogous to the logic of the garden. An ongoing series entitled "Bushes", reinterprets rococo bocage, closely clustered porcelain flowers used as decorative devices and backdrops to figurine groupings. My life-size bushes, with intricately patterned surfaces, function both as decorative object and sculptural site, directly engaging the history of gardening, which bocage sought to emulate as illusionary setting.

Privet (Ball) explores the seeming tensions between the decorative and the monumental. The spherical outline resonates with the geometry of minimalist sculpture, but the abstracted leaves obscure the purity or austerity of this form. As they conceal the underlying structure, the leaves reveal a riotous decorative surface.

As with Privet (Ball), Hedge (Box) explores the relationship between the monumental and the decorative. The intricate, variegated surface masks an underlying form that remains, nevertheless, intelligible. Taking a cue from the neo-Platonists, I aim to draw attention to our reliance on the ephemeral to communicate the transcendental. Minimalist sculptors like Judd attempted to render perfectly pared down shapes, but I always notice the cracks, which become more prominent as these objects age. My leaves act like so many cracks, asserting the imperfections and limitations of signification.