My artistic practice investigates the cultural phenomenon of historical reenactment, or Living History, using it as a means of addressing the relationship between American history, social activism, craft, and identity. Living History is founded on the idea that historical events gain meaning and relevance when performed live in an open-air, interactive setting. With craft and war conjoined at its center, this collaborative form of history in-the-making has been a pivotal focus of my work, offering up a rich set of activities and objects that I bring into association with contemporary art. I utilize the model of the living history museum to rethink the opportunities of exhibition space, and I explore the social function of reenactors’ props alongside the performative possibilities of sculpture. Invoking various forms of public convocation such as battle reenactments, peddlers’ markets, quilting bees, military musters, parades, and craft fairs, I create temporary social formations driven by themes of conflict and creative democracy. I employ a range of tactile media such as textiles, ceramics, printmaking, and wood furniture to produce performative sculptures, interactive installations, and artist-led participatory projects that rethink, restage, redo, and refigure collective memories.
My sculptures are imbued with an artifact quality through their association with events and their engagement with the public, whether through activities of collaborative making, activation in social space, or material transformation from one context to the next. Many of these sculptures “play” with forms of official sculpture by bringing traditional statuary and war memorials into association with nineteenth-century children’s toys, suggesting socialization, subversive play, and a queering of history. Judith Butler famously theorized the performativity of identity, calling for “a different sort of repeating.” Throughout my practice, I engage in a different sort of reenactment, implicating others and myself in processes of identity formation, nationhood construction, and collective myth making. Positioned between utopian and critical discourses, my work features a polyphony of viewpoints, embracing dissensus and diversity. Drawing attention to the generative and participatory ethos of craft and its capacity to forge ties and potentially enable equality of access, I use craft in a strategic way, allowing it to act as a civic catalyst in the public sphere.
Ultimately, I am interested in crafting sculptures that are conversation pieces in the most ambitious sense, facilitating occasions to engage in both intimate and charged public debate, thereby exposing the limits of conflicting arenas of traditional public sculpture, socially engaged art, and performance. My work has evolved from a constellation of artistic arenas including social sculpture, feminist art, identity politics, and institutional critique and participates in emergent discourses on contemporary sculpture, craft, experimental performance, and social practices.