The Miscreants of Tiny Town is an ongoing series of interwoven, darkly satirical fairy tale vignettes whose visual narratives I’ve expanded on for the past decade. I’ve presented the trials and tribulations of Tiny Town’s ever-imperiled, wayward children in various forms over the years, from mixed media paintings on hand-carved pieces of wood, drawings on paper, to sculpture and installation.
The kaleidoscopic compositions are by turns whimsical and melancholic, tinged with both nostalgia and a sense of the macabre. I think of them as playful investigations into the sometimes violent imaginings that are part of the universal experience of childhood.
I’m specifically interested in how the longings and fears and dark stories from our early years inform our perspectives in adulthood and shape our grown-up anxieties and understanding about real-world, large-scale cultural, economic and environmental change.
For “The Primal Forces of Nature,” my new solo show at Rogue Buddha Gallery, I wanted to stray away from the events of those tribes of psychotic children for a moment and instead focus on the variety of ancient mixed creatures that created their world and mythologies.
These grotesque beasts are systematically disintegrating the Tiny Town Pangaea, then carving out new nations or building them on top of old ones. The characters and compositions of these scenes are meant to resemble the images from our own history’s military insignias, currencies, family crests as well as occult and orthodox religious symbols.
Alexander Herzen coined the phrase “History is the autobiography of a madman.” We like to imagine that we’re floating confidently in a straight line from Left to Right. However, in the midst of our current political and environmental climate, some of our oldest and most regrettable “–isms” have been dredged up and waived in our faces. So much so, that it’s starting to feel like History isn’t a straight line at all but an impossibly tangled wad, constantly looping around itself and obscuring its own design.
So, the beasts depicted in this body of work aren’t necessarily caricatures of specific ancient cultures or political movements, so much as they’re anthropomorphized memes, shoving their subjects through evolutionary thresholds. They’re fairy tale representations of the utterly baffling variety of environmental coincidences that drive a particular culture’s hive-mind to its bleakest and darkest extremes. Yet as dire as our collective situation might seem these days, it’s comforting to be reminded that our Story has barely begun.