Fantasy, reality and the objectification that happens in between...
This project aims to realize a monumental work of sculpture for my MFA graduating thesis at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I will be creating a massive, thirty-foot long merman. I have enlisted adult film star Colby Keller to model for the life cast that will become the base for the sculpture. Using skin-safe silicone, a three-dimensional replica of Colby's body will be made and cast into plastic. The cast will then be transformed into a merman, lying serpentine in the middle of the gallery floor.
Stemming from my experience as a gay male from the Midwest and transitioning into the gay culture of the east coast, this sculpture, the first in a new series of work, questions the relationship between fantasy, reality and the objectification that happens in between.
I am questioning how people interact. Has sexuality become the basis of identity? Does shame and resentment associated with one's youth create a fantasy of our expectations in connecting (and objectifying) with others and what role we play in those connections (or objectifications)? As I began thinking about these questions, I also questioned how social media has established a footing in creating our fantasy and reality. How has social media, the interactive nature of technology, and digital information changed our identities? What role has it played in our perception of who we are, how we connect to each other, and with whom we connect with?
These questions have landed into my mythology of a merman. It relates to how we see others, and ourselves and how we connect with each other in relationship to our human form. Colby Keller's identity as an adult film star is also a factor in creating this message and adds to the mythology. What role has pornography and access to blunt-force sexual data played in the creation of our fantasy (or reality)? In what way has it changed what we objectify and how we connect? Has it become a part of our own individual identities?
Your donations and investments will contribute to a much-needed dialogue in the creation of this piece. Here's what I need to make this happen:
The material cost to produce a work of art this scale is immense. Nearly $3,000 alone is needed to supply the skin-safe silicone, plastic, foam, metal, steel, epoxy, urethane rubber, finishes and other tools and supplies.
I have organized a team of 4 skilled assistants to facilitate the rigid time requirement for producing a life cast. Because the life cast is done with time-sensitive materials on a live model, we must work extremely fast to reduce the margin of error and ensure safety for Colby Keller. A modest stipend will be given to the assistants for the intense nature of the work.
3. Production Costs
The video production, photography, marketing and reward materials have also been included in the budget. There are some seriously awesome rewards for those that donate!
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This sculpture is very technically challenging. The process of molding a live model and casting something this large isn't easy. I have had years of training and experience in mold making and sculpting. I have a realistic understanding of the tedious nature of the process. Though the casting and steps I take to ensure the mold is as accurate and complete as possible, there are always last minute changes and challenges that will be faced. Problem solving is crucial to the success of the piece. Sculpture isn't something one just does. Rather, it is a collaboration between myself, the materials and the process.
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