My current work is generated through formal and informal collaboration with my family (my wife and artist Gala Bent & our 3 sons) surrounding ideas of domesticity, habitation, and American civilization history. As play and work aren’t mutually exclusive to children, I have attempted to engineer photographic tableaus and performative installations that blur the line between our actual life and art practice. In the pursuit of these projects, we have lived inside Crawlspace Gallery for a week playing the role of modern car camping frontiersmen, re-modeled a life-sized Lincoln Log cabin in order to make an intimate play shelter, built towering bonfires and survival tools, as well as worked on an ongoing series of teamwork drawings.
A method I have readily employed to equalize our family and to shift our context has been the use of costuming. Most recently we played the part of a divergent troop of scouts. Scouting traditions contain a multi-tiered system of rites of passage, from learning social code and simple survival skills, to lifesaving and independent leadership, and even to rituals, which are comparable to spiritual coming-of-age rites. An exhibit in 2009, Buffalo Trace, focused on human limitedness in the conservation and preservation of nature including a reclaimed Douglas fir outfitted with birdhouses, a salvaged deer carcass, and a collection of my family’s tears. My most recent body of work further extended this inquiry with works that toed the line between play and catastrophe in the face of an unwieldy natural order. Fort Branch and a series of photographic documents and occurrences. To conclude the exhibition a performance was staged where my sons and I re-modeled the Lincoln Log structure to their specifications featured a set of artifacts including a full scale dilapidated Lincoln Log cabin (drawing on the nearly one hundred year old toy designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son John during the Progressive Era).