In my artwork which is done in clay I attempted to portray how high and low culture can be merged in a sculpture. My intention for this piece was to portray a character normally found in fiction, and; attribute it with features that express human emotion. Looking at my piece one could easily say that the bust portrayed is that of a non-existent creature, such as an alien or a gargoyle. However, in portraying my theme, I intentionally gave the sculpture a downcast expression as seen in the hollow and downturned eyes as well as the bowed position of the bust.
Here, I would like to portray the contrast between the tangibility and intangibility of humanity where the intangibility is represented by the existence of imaginary or self-inflicted states as I would like to portray in the creature and the tangibility which is represented by the human emotions in the piece. In doing this I believe I was able to achieve what Jeff Coons tried to achieve in many of his artworks where he tries to represent two levels of culture and society in a singular artwork to establish the link between the concepts and ideas.
For instance, in his piece “Rabbit” he is able to express the merging of two diametrically opposed concepts, novelty and value. The mere fact that the artwork is done in metal but is of a common object, an inflatable bunny, makes the artwork representative of two different social spectrums. This is what I wanted to achieve in my artwork. I can say that I was able to achieve this in my piece by taking something out of fantasy and using this to portray the very real emotions of humanity.
The effect is an apparent fusion between the two concepts which all the more makes it interesting. What my artwork represents is not however strange or foreign except for the fact that there are no fantastical creatures in real life. What it is representative of is the very real phenomenon of derivation of emotional instability or the lack of it from the existence of unreal of fictional situations. This concept is quite common among people of high society who believe in one thing but portray another.
So, in effect the merging of the high and the low of culture could be easily expressed in my artwork as the apparent and the real – what can be seen but is not real and what cannot be seen but is real and genuine. This same concept is portrayed by Koon in his artwork of Michael Jackson and his pet monkey – this is an illustration of how a piece, while featuring two very famous figures or household names, actually represents two layers of society and even satirizes the contrast between Jackson and the monkey on a more intimate level.
In addition to the features of my artwork that I mentioned I would also like to mention the reason why I intentionally gouged out a line that runs from the forehead down to the chin. While this particular feature seems to present the creature as a humanoid hybrid between man and ape, which all the more makes it a fusion of two cultures, the line also makes obvious what normally are imaginary lines in anatomy. This makes the piece more verbose in its portrayal of the tangible and the intangible.
I used these features in my artwork because I consider genuineness in emotion a component of high culture and the concealment of these emotions in fantasy a component of low culture. I am aware though that the piece I did is not as articulate as I expected it to be, but in more ways than one, it expresses what I want to convey to my viewers. Another aspect that I would like viewers to take notice of is the medium and what is portrayed using the medium – I portrayed a fantastical creature using a mundane medium making an even stark contrast between the heights of fantasy and the lows of reality.