THE BIG IDEA: This series reflects my near obsessive preoccupation with issues of gender identity and sexuality. One of the reasons for this, I suppose, is because I grew up gay at a time when it was a much much bigger deal (who am I kidding! just look around). Male cultural stereotypes, inspiring and repressive, were deeply imbedded in me which often left me asking myself “What makes you think you’re a man?”
WHAT I DID: For this project and to broaden my perspective, I gathered a diverse group of men from Central Alberta, straight and gay, ranging from young professionals to elder statesmen, who were willing to explore their ideas of maleness and masculinity with me.
The deal was that they would sit for drawings, answer questions from my totally unscientific and kind of random questionnaire, create a little something of their own, and I’d sift through the materials like an art-cheologist, excavate the big ideas, put everything in context and create their portrait with this great ninety year-old linen I’d scored.
WHAT YOU’LL SEE: As I dug through the artifacts of my fellow clansmen, the notion of creating a free-standing totem (an object or animal believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem) for each portrait, began to take shape and became the focus of the project.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LINEN: Linen gave way to leather after I got turned onto it at a course I took, so I bought lots of tools (how manly is that, eh?) tossed my previous work, and had a ball stamping, cutting, pounding and embellishing this wonderfully primitive and elemental material.
AND SO: As you wander through the site, I’d like you to imagine that you’re at a museum (um…) looking at an assemblage of artifacts from a long-lost and terribly fierce (okay, just kidding about the fierce, but some of the subjects are hunters, if that counts) tribe.
And just like a on a visit to a museum, ponder and skip, avoid and delve and if you are really dedicated (look, you read this far didn’t you?) you can read my ramblings about each portrait-totem and take a look at some of the artifacts.