My work can be dissected to the forms of clouds, robots, and children. The clouds, if one pays enough attention to detail are made up of a number of breast-like formations intertwined with a phallic symbol or two. This is to represent the air of sex that floats around us all of the time. The amount of sexual imagery and innuendo that the average child, not teen, has seen and heard within his or her first 10 years on the planet is staggering. In my own personal experience, in which I was raised in a Christian home and went through 8 years of Christian school, I was never educated on sex for the most part, which wasnt really necessary anyway, because it was thrown in my face so early on. But the fact that sex is so low on the Christian list of things to teach to the youth, was what I think had me wondering about it so early on. You get married, and you have babies. Someone close to me had her first kid at 18 in high school. That kind of rocked my 12 year-old world. That experience kind of made me examine the thought process behind the whole idea of sex being something scheduled, controllable, contained.
So in my head I see this air of sex as these candy coated clouds dancing around. This also plays off of the idea of a bunch of kids lying on the ground, cloud watching. Whereas most children see elephants and bunnies, what if a kid does see breasts and penises? Sitting in the movies, or at home watching TV, the images have probably already entered his/her mind, long before he/she has been educated on what they mean.
Next, come the children and the robots. The image of the hulking robot serves a few purposes. He, if we give him a gender, is an actor of sorts playing all the pivotal roles in these one-frame dramas. He can be a deity, play a parental role, serve as guardian, teacher, or any number of protective and nurturing roles. He also doubles as a theme that technology has become the babysitter for kids, and that in many cases the parents are nowhere to be found. I have purposefully not included the parents of the little children in these scenes, as a representation of what i see going on in the world. Most parents these days will throw their children in front of a television set, a video or some other kind of device, like a video game system. Children are often thrown to the wolves, for the most part, so these robots are their babysitters.
When developing the character, the design consisted, for the most part, of a featureless head, large body, large arms, and rarely any legs. There were no features or face for two reasons. First, the head was too small to contain a face of actual feeling. Second, was the idea of body language, being taken in its most literal sense. The design evolved into the torso being the home to the face, complete with eyes and mouth, however the face remains eerily static. In this wayI can work the facial expression against the stretch or strain of his body language. In its deity role, the robot appears behind a cloud, following suit of early works done for the church. In a sense, these paintings are based in that alter piece tradition, consisting of larger than life figures in romantic poses; in, behind, and amongst the clouds. In my experience, the best part of the way I am painting now, is modifying this one set of characters, changing their attributes and challenging myself to push their use to the limit.
Most recently, I have been using these characters to illustrate the sense of longing, abandonment, neglect, and yet ironic bliss and innocence that comprise the life of some children. For instance, the way a poverty-stricken child with a drug-addicted parent will go outside and play for hours, looking so care-free. That happy-go-lucky attitude allows them to step outside of the world they live in, and into the world they imagine for themselves. On the other side, Im also trying to display the result of pushing children out of the nest too soon, but at the same time not cutting the chord, and when you push someone away while you still hold the leash in your hands, they choke.
About 3 months ago, I was drawing the images out in my book. The clouds, the children, and the robots had a relationship, but when I began to consider the main point of these illustrations, I realized there was no result of a downfall present in them. To remedy this, I drew out the image of a little child on a string, dangling from a cloud, almost as if they had tried to soar, but were tethered there, so in trying to fly they had inadvertantly hung themselves.
As morbid or dreary as that may sound, it happens; although figuratively. There are parents out there that are the least hands-on and most neglegent parents in existence, but when it comes for the child to leave the home, or move on with their life, they tie them down, and tell them NO. So what does that do to the child? That action chokes the life out of them, and that is what the hanging child illustrates.