Artist Statement

No matter how long I’ve been away, my work will always be shaped by growing up in Toledo, Ohio—an economically-depressed, post-industrial city. The pervading sense of hopelessness and invisibility instilled both a fierce sense of loyalty to the underdog and, perhaps paradoxically, the conviction that things could be different. Because of this, I work to create spaces that welcome participants who would not identify themselves as activists, yet long to shape the politics that impact their lives.

I explore ideas of participation and authority by producing sculpture and installation, organizing events, and developing archives and oral histories. This work follows a documentary tradition that resists sentimentality, confronts the elusive nature of truth, and embraces competing narratives. The throughline of my work is a focus on historiography and identity, examining how our stories about the past play out in our lives today.

I strive to accommodate different degrees of interaction from brief encounters to co-creation, acknowledging the competing demands of people’s lives. This participation can be behind the scenes during a research process of interviews and surveys that is later given artistic form (Stimmen der Ruhmeshalle, Das Fundbuero: Lost and Found Flyers), or it can be present and visible in the process of the work, where the input and engagement of participants build on a framework I have created (Das Fundbuero: The Leipziger Zentrale).

I often play the role of a facilitator between individuals and power structures. I function literally as a mediator by taking input from others and presenting it in a new medium. My goal, however, is not resolving problems, but making them visible and inquiring into their causes. I am seeking to create a space in which we can sit confidently with questions and ambiguity rather than chase desperately after answers and certainty.

I am particularly interested in dissensus within community and use my artwork to test my own commitment to pluralistic democracy. I do this by bringing to light perspectives and narratives that question our worldviews, including my own. My intent is to develop work that acknowledges and works with what are sometimes irreconcilable differences—a critical rather than celebratory practice.

It is important to me to not only to focus on direct work with participants, but also to participate in discourses about the construction of social and public space and how it impacts our ability to be civically engaged. I see my practice as traveling on two parallel tracks, and seek to contribute to both the world at large and the art and academic worlds. Sometimes these goals seem to be in direct opposition to one another, and my aim is to reconcile this apparent divide through works that create bridges between these worlds. Solo artworks are part of an iterative process in which I attempt to bring into line the parallel tacks of my practice and address audiences outside of the direct circle of participation in collaborative projects.