The domestic space sets the stage for perpetual self-reinvention.
With a body of work consisting of material explorations of accumulation and degradation, I want to probe what may be the ultimate result of our endless cultivation of domestic personas. Events and gestures such as moving, remodeling, landscaping, redecorating and rearranging all contribute to this notion that we define ourselves with our surrounding materials nowhere better than in our homes.
I feel that the need for self-reinvention manifests itself most desperately within the suburbs - a culture based largely on sameness that often necessitates desperate attempts at differentiation. The discernably homogenous saturation of the environment and lifestyle causes inhabitants to be more acutely aware of what sets them apart from their neighbors. Attempts at maintaining a unique identity within the sprawl range from the public display that is lawn care to private instances of self-preservation in the form of re-upholstering a dated old couch. In my work I aim to grossly exaggerate such situations to make physical these ideas of material memory, obsession, denial and general hysteria, all glazed over with the calm, composed aesthetic of domesticity. I am investigating the process of accumulation, degradation and ultimate ruination that results from a perpetual need to reinvent our selves with our material surroundings.
A large part of my research will involve discussion with people who are in a process of self-reinvention. I want to speak with people who have saved months of salary in order to remodel their kitchen, the habitual gardener with a palpable sense of competition with her neighbor, those who feel a move to a new apartment is just the right time to start all over and properly organize their knick-knacks. Aside from imagined narratives, my own family and upbringing offer a veritable goldmine of suburban angst. I grew up within the endless, idyllic subdivisions outside of Tampa, FL and suffered a near anxiety attack when I went to a friend’s house at age 9 and discovered she had the same floor plan as me. The feelings of betrayal and surreal paranoia still resonate. My grandmother has recovered the couch in her living room as many as 10 times in the past few years. It is practically a seasonal event. A distant uncle has been remodeling his house for 4 years, somewhat of a sorry excuse for missing a number of important family functions. The common element in these events, real and imagined, is the awareness that the choices we have for material self-expression are relatively limited, yet we continue to reach further and further for a sense of satisfaction within our carefully curated living spaces.
I am creating what I feel is an exaggerated series of relics from this idea of material and domestic self-definition. Leftover fabric swatches from craft stores, rejected house paint from the hardware store, old window screen, reclaimed drywall – all of these materials are by-products of the massive industry that has capitalized on our decorative tendencies. Whenever possible I use recycled or rejected materials as somewhat authentic relics of a decision that was made within the domestic space at a given moment. I manipulate these materials in a revelatory way using repetitive processes, performative gestures, and mass quantities to speak about the general absurdity of the notion that one can define themselves through materials alone. My objects exist as evidence of failed attempts while at the same time maintaining the hope that one day, you just may find the throw pillow that is “so you.”