I am currently making political art that critiques recent events in our culture. I use various types of humor as a strategy in my artworks, such as political satire, irony, and gallows humor, in order to highlight the absurdity. This allows me to communicate to a larger audience beyond those who agree with me and create dialogue. I am creating awards and trophies for specific politicians and political groups to highlight and comment on specific policies, practices, and issues. By creating awards for actions and accomplishments that are negatively noteworthy, I can highlight how extreme these supposed accomplishments are.
In the Metalsmithing field, there is a long tradition of presentation objects given to people as a token of esteem. These objects take a variety of forms— medals awarded to soldiers, trophies presented to athletes, engraved bowls to commemorate the birth of a child or wedding. The practice dates back to antiquity and historically, these presentation pieces were typically functional objects, such as bowls, cups, and spoons but medals were also made. The pieces were engraved with both the giver and the recipient, the reason for the award, and sometimes a date or a scene depicting the event. The sculptural trophies that I modeled my work after developed during the late 19th Century and are now more common than the functional objects. These historic artworks and my own artworks share a tradition of hand made processes that I am deeply committed to continuing.
The idea that jewelry and functional metalwork can be an art used for social commentary is more recent, growing with the rise of the Art Metals movement. A good portion of my inspiration with this work was the “Anti-War Medals” exhibition at the Velvet da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco, which featured anti-war medals created by a large number of artists whose work I was already interested in and admired. Art as social commentary can be found throughout art history, from political cartoons in newspapers and broadsides to the work of contemporary activist artists like Peter Kuper or Kennardphillips and feminist artists such as Barbara Kruger.