by M. L. Morrill
My work is about living and thriving amongst the movements of our harsh reality. It is about looking through the random bits and waste of our society and finding those Morsels of Emancipation. It knows that the Left is impotent, and there is little hope for miraculous change. It knows our futility, but instead of cowering in its own existential weakness, it stands up and says, FUCK THAT, LIFE IS AWESOME!
My work is made in and about those moments where life is the greatest thing imaginable. It is not about nostalgia or recreating childhood moments. It is as present as it can possibly be. It is about expressing those silly, random, and often ignored ideas. The ones that come to mind all the time as puns, slogans, jokes, and questions. It is about revealing all the stupidest and most personal thoughts. It is about GETTING STOKED!
However, my work has not always been this positive. For the past three years, my work has been focused on finding an objective and absolute meaning to life. Fueled by the writings of Adorno, Bataille, Camus, and Nietzsche, and the work of Eva Hesse and Richard Serra, along with it being my first time leaving home and coming to Chicago from California, I became convinced that life had no meaning, that, all we are doing is postponing the inevitable. Without meaning my work was merely formalist works of material and composition. Examples of this kind of work can be seen in the first two slides. The first was my first attempt at installation. It is a triangle of canvas that perfectly mates to the sharp angled stairwells between the basement and first floor of the Columbus building. This project stemmed from my obsession with an objective purpose, and my refusal to believe that the architect would build such a useless space. The second and third slide are of a piece that I made to be adaptable. Constructed out of aluminum mesh and a single line of red yarn. My goal was to make a piece that could be rolled up, folded, hung, laid out. At the same time, I wanted to use a material that was and wasn’t there.
The fourth and fifth slides are the last pieces from last semester. Slide number four is my portion of a collaborative project between two other students and myself. It consisted of the three of us sleeping in different areas of the Columbus building during lunch. The parts that I find the most successful are the small bits such as the fact that each one of our stations represented us as individuals. For example, Asli Uludag, the one who was very out going, her “bed” was right in front of the security desk; whereas my bed was on a bench behind people completely unbeknownst to some of those sitting down. The other kind of success was the projects ability to bring me out of my shell, and make me more comfortable in this new city and school.
Slide number five is my first foray into my ideas of Stoke. The sculptures consist of mud moulded into individual letters spelling Stoke. The piece comments on the ephemeral nature of stoke. Stoke is an elated sense of being, or an extreme form of happiness that comes from getting rad or having an awesome time. However, stoke can be mooched by parents, neighbors, friends, and cousins. Mooching Stoke is the lack of creativity or drive to find their own means of getting stoked. They are the ones that beg for you to get them out to the mountains, but when the time comes to go, they bail out. With that in mind, my piece illustrates the ephemerality of stoke by existing only in my possession, for once a person collects one (the letters were intended to be shared) the letter will disintegrate without extreme care.
The use of slang, inside jokes, humor and general lightheartedness is my focus. This is because I had the greatest month of my life this past January when I went back home to California for several weeks. Nothing will erase ideas of nihilism and cynicism better than a hundred mile bike ride up and down the coast of California with stops for swimming, sunsets and beer. Going to California was amazing not only because I got a break from Chicago’s winter, but because it made me appreciate Chicago more than I did before. I no longer feel like I need to compare the two. It is another lesson in subjectivity.
The last six slides are all examples of what could be called my radical change in an outlook. What I want to do with art is make works that are as excited and stoked as I am. Like Adorno’s and B-movies, I believe there is a certain amount of emancipation in silly and fun art. We don’t need more art telling us how complex and difficult life is. We learn that everyday every time we listen to the news. Making art that indulges our senses of misery is far more decadent than painting animals that will never meet in the wild can ever be. So let’s make art that emancipates! Whether that is achievable by comparing Bruce Nauman to Bret Michaels, drawing Facebook statuses, painting seventy-two corndogs, sewing a gnarly sweater, making a corndog weeble-wobble, or painting a picture of a wolverine with a lamprey in its mouth.
“Wolverine and Lamprey”