Social institutions work to create categories which classify people based on designated physical and biological traits that are meant to form a personal identity. Humans, however, by nature resist classification due to the imbricated conscious and unconscious dimensions of the mind. These multifaceted, layered identities are in constant conflict with the social constraints placed upon people. These constraints often control behavior and emotion. By stepping outside the constraints of normative behavior, people have the opportunity to experience openness with themselves and those around them. My work uses physical and visual pleasure cues to stimulate subconscious desires or primal instincts which, in turn, allow for uncensored play that intersects with intimacy and sexual behaviors. This type of honest behavior can open people up to meaningful emotional connections that would otherwise be seen as socially inappropriate or out of place.
My work begins with innocent play between the viewer and an actor. The color, form and texture of my work are used to build curiosity and draw the viewer into close proximity. Normal body proximity in public is a few feet away, but by inviting the viewer in or invading the viewer’s personal space they become highly aware of their body and those around them. The exposure of a sexual form triggers desires and thoughts that are normally repressed in public. By acting without inhibitions, emotions become more honest and true in any given situation. This intimate honesty can lead to self-discoveries and genuine connections with those who share the experience.
Play is integral to my work because it is how we initially form our concepts of social behavior and roles. As children, we learn what is acceptable through play. Through these actions we internalize norms in our adult life. Within my work, play returns the viewer to a state of innocence, exploration, and curiosity, which creates openness to new experiences. Openness is the willingness to let go of constraints which inhibit the full potential of life experiences with other people. Through shared intimate experiences, people can be more empathetic and compassionate towards one another. This empathy and compassion is rooted in an acceptance of one’s own desire. I look to artists like Ernesto Neto, Olafur Eliasson, and Nick Cave for their use of stimulation as a means to alter behavior within their work. They all use color and play as an invitation for people to interact and create a new experience for themselves and those sharing the experience with them.