Artist Statement

Working Thesis

Novelty and Common Ground Frame Technology

We connect when decisions are made by taste and desire. Truth lies in pure entertainment and simple beauty. Objects made with physical skill still rock. When the chops are sharp the images cut clean to the bone.

21st Century technology is freeing us from identity constructions. We have more control, choices, and options to take the easiest path possible. Consumer technology is making our values more extreme. New philosophies are forged in the raging flames of niche networks.

As argued in Power, Faith and Fantasy by Michael Oren, terrorism built the Western identity. Western foreign policy was born to fight pirates. Disney and Halloween now celebrate it. Turbans, radical Islamic websites and YouTube videos are more terrifying than Johnny Depp's drunken eye-liner. The gap between pirates and terrorists is a concrete example. Our cultural myths divide us further and further from 'the enemy'. Finding common ground with 'the enemy' would question the western identity. It'd be cowardly. Fear's easier to tap than the muddy waters of diplomacy. It takes courage to fight. It takes more courage to resist the survival instinct to fight difference and exact revenge.

We're becoming biologically homogeneous. Our bodies are more and more alike. Still our minds are growing apart. Globalism and climate change happen to all of us. They happen to drive us apart at the same time. We can't even agree that we're the same, or that our environment is damaging our bodies. Our health is wilting so our minds are detaching from each other, our environment, and from our own bodies.

We have an untapped universal similarity. Technology has tuned our survival instincts away from food, water and shelter. Now we need social and mental health. Humans have become profoundly similar in one way. We're all motivated by the balance of being different or normal. We negotiate the process of being alone or together, private or public, isolated or accepted, rebellious or conforming, innovative or corny, different or similar, underground or mainstream, challenging or entertaining. We chose between our family needs and individual desires. We vote for political candidates based on individual rights vs. communal needs. We look at our social traditions and decide to conform or rebel, join the pack or stand out to have our voice heard and make a change. I chose what art to make based on whether it's popular or maintstream. This is our constant oscillation or decision making. We fear the wrong choice. Our brains and technology have evolved to make us smart and free enough from survival needs to have such a freedom of choice. Not everyone has the full range of this luxury. But even the poorest of the poor wrestle with the same demons. To escape poverty, choices must be made. Stay with the pack to solve our predicament as a community? Or venture out to find new opportunity on our own? Do what's always traditionally worked in the past? Or experiment, testing possibilities to find new results?

This is unique to human history. Our common ground is something completely new. Maybe we're not the only evolved, intelligent life forms to inhabit the universe. Humanity has become something completely unique from anything in history. As complex as they are, we have a core set of values. We are intelligent and free enough to deeply ponder our choices. We can all connect with the same struggle of being too normal, or too different.

Mission Statement

Have Leavitty. Make fun. I like fun.

My Platform
I make fun. I see a world that needs art to be fun again. Making toys is fun. Mine's the rare pleasure of making a career from my passion. A hobby can also be serious business. I've mixed work and play so much that I can't tell the difference anymore. The same can be true for bigger issues. I want art to bring laughter, love and beauty to heavy things. My escape is my grindstone. I hope you're inspired to re-stir the mix too. Your kids or career shouldn't have all your fun. Your iPhone and TV aren't the only escape. Politics can be beautiful. Social issues can be light and airy. Art should be silly. Life can be as goofy and illuminating as it was as a child. This is my vision. These are the reasons to make your emotional and financial investment in my art work. I was born and raised in Seattle. Now I live on Vashon Island, next to Seattle. The market for my work is everywhere but my own hometown. I've always fallen through the cracks. Growing up, I wasn't rich or mean enough for cool kids. I wasn't smart or awkward enough for nerdy kids. I was never elusive or tormented for artsy kids. I hung out in all cliques instead of one clique. Today I have the same disability to find one suitable category. So here are the categories addressed by my HiPop Project.

My specialty is sculpting faces. It's an anthropology project. I'm saving faces. I record collective experiences. I'm a historian. Lots of people and things don't make the history books or get media coverage. This is why I'm on a quest to represent the person behind the mask, the wizard behind the curtain, puppet masters, producers behind the scenes, power brokers, and taste makers who create publicity without getting public credit.

Consumer Culture
Everything's made is China. Jobs are specialized. We buy stuff we don't need. Satire and humor help this nasty medicine go down. I make stuff to buy that makes fun of buying stuff. I straddle art and product while living off both markets. I consciously make elite-level fine art sculpture look like mass-market product. I do old school craft on traditional materials. I laboriously make art look machine-made. Consumerism-as-subject-matter speaks to an audience long disillusioned by elitism. So I prioritize making my work available to a large market.

I make a modest income from long hours of labor living off my art. It's only possible with my low overhead and lifestyle. The sculpting machines at the ends of my arms need fuel. I pour my heart, soul, thoughts, energy and sweat into everything I make. It's my infinite desire to fine tune my craft. I'm on this planet to work with my hands. I know why I exist. Knowing your place on the planet should drive everyone. It can also drive a person crazy. Anyone who's a parent or ambitious at their work struggles with a work-life balance. The creator gets consumed. Circumstances take control. Your body and health succomb to the pressure. This is why my work represents the surreal images of artists and creators overtaken by their work. We all struggle to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. Social media makes privacy and publicity even more poignant. We've crossed a threshold. We struggle with it more and more because the line between work and life is now permanently blurred. Whether we fight or embrace it, technology is our lifestyle.

Art classes are a rarity. Most people barely learn to draw stick figures in school. Other subjects are more important. Economics drive demand. Funding for the arts suffers at the lowest priority level. This would be fine if art was actually dead. Life is simply too short without our best talents and passions at the plate. I'm not saying everyone needs to quit their day job to become an artist. Just care. Wonder about art. Can you name a single visual artist alive today? Living artists are just as good as dead ones. A humanity disconnected from the arts is composed of people disconnected from each other. If no one else is engaged with changing these circumstances, I am. Arts education are just as important as any other subject.

If nothing else technology should increase our reverence for excercise & physical health. I don't care if it makes our lives easier. It should make us better. Tactility and physical, human contact are getting their fair share in this age we're in. We think we love technology. Do we love DIY tech as much as consumer tech? Do we emphasize enough experimental science and philosophy (not just math and applied science) in early education? Maybe the robots will never take over and no one needs to question the undying love of technology. It's still worth questioning the confluence of economics and science that creates our phones, tablets and PC's. It's here to stay, but we don't have to let economic demand drive the role of tech in our lives.

Organized religion serves a great purpose. It's community. It's home and grounding. It's not grounding when it becomes propoganda. Too often a religion falls under the belief that there is 'only one way'. That questioning and introspecting is less than faith and belief. Art is the same. The art world is perpetually stuck in an academic corner. It's disconnected. It's best purpose is communal, connecting people to each other and across cultures. A sustainable system of belief can't rely on belief alone. Community is part of the system. It's a system of belief in context.

The Environment
I'm motivated by the outside world. I'm inspired by history, inspecting the consumerist culture I was raised in, and the natural beauty of my Seattle birthplace. Large metropolitan cities like Seattle are being developed rapidly. Who will remember to restore native habitats for native species of plants and animals? This is what will perpetually regenerate itself. Humans don't need to repopulate the earth. There's billions of us and we're still growing. We're doing fine. It's other earthly beings that need at least some of the energy we devote to ourselves. This is why I do naturalistic and realistic representation in my art work. It's my reverence for nature. It's not 'low brow'. Nature rocks. My work isn't a perfect replica of the natural world. That's ok. I want a little escape too. So my sculpting style is relatively lose, embellishing certain features as a parody or editorial comment. Van Gogh and Monet got a lot right. The inner impression of the outside world is part of the experience. It's just not the entire experience. Pure beauty comes from the outer world. Technology is at its best amplifying ourselves. I hope it amplifies the voices of nature too. This is how to stay connected to reality.

My work's critical. Satire and comedy create discourse. Poking fun at something exposes both the problem and solution. Humor greases the wheels of problem solving. You're being told what to do from the left and right. Government and religion have all the answers. I'm a teacher and facilitator to inspire you with pretty things. Making a career from my passion is a point of inspiration. I sketch out a path. You decide what's right or wrong. My only truth is beauty. It guides me. Art and nature show me the way. Beauty can be your moral compass too. My art serves a new purpose. I'm redefining a middle ground between art and design to make art relevant again. The world still needs it. It needs the purpose of art to evolve. Lines divide 'high' and 'low' culture. High art and pop culture are galvanized by The HiPop Project.