Metal Menagerie

Manufactured Replacements

There are many studies pertaining to the rate of extinction we are currently experiencing on Earth. It is very clearly a number that is hard to nail down, but I have seen estimates of 24 species a day or even as high as 150 species a day. No matter what, I think we can all agree that the number is significant and definitely much too high for my liking. So many subjects these days are extremely divisive and therefore meaningful conversation is difficult to achieve. The loss of entire species seems to be something that we as a species all agree is a bad thing. The more we industrialize and take advantage of the planet, the more we will lose these unique and beautiful creatures.

Just about everyone loves animals so in this work I try to illustrate the beauty of them by recreating them out of man made and mass produced items. It is a reminder that once they have gone extinct we will never be able to bring them back in any meaningful way. We will have effectively traded something we love for something we literally dispose of after one use in many cases. To me that trade is not worth it and I hope this work brings that thought to the forefront of the viewers mind.



Nothing is Forever Unless We are Forever Vigilant

There are certain things in the lives of every person that we perceive as perfect and eternal. These are the things that keep us anchored in life, the things we can count on when everything else is in turmoil. Everyone needs this whether it is a parent or a best friend, a lover or even your own self-perception. Any number of things can fulfill this basic need for something to fall back on and it is certainly different for each of us. These are the things we need and also, by their very nature, the things we take for granted.

No matter how flawless or perpetual these things may be to us, they still need to be taken care of and nurtured from time to time. Once the tiniest crack forms it creates an opening for decay to set in. Any corrosion needs to be tended to swiftly before the deterioration is too extensive to repair. Pay attention because nothing is forever unless we are forever vigilant. The things we take for granted are those which we miss the most when they are gone.

Phantom Fish

Ghostly Reminders

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the banks of the Kanawha River in West Virginia. I live in what what is known as the chemical valley because we have so many chemical plants in this area and most are along the riverside. It used to be that dumping regulations were much less strict or even nonexistent so it was a well known fact that no one should eat any fish they caught from the river. Many people were even reluctant to say it was okay to swim because so many heavy metals and who knows what other chemicals were being released into it. I can remember two specific instances where I went down to play on the riverbank and there was a fish kill so massive that in my “child brain” I felt I could almost walk across the entire river on the corpses. This image has persisted in my head to this very day and is the original source for this body of work.

Since chemical pollution is more strictly controlled now I haven’t seen a fish kill so massive but the amount of litter in the river and on the banks seems to have increased exponentially. The idea behind these pieces is for me to personally collect trash and then encapsulate it inside a clear resin cast of different types of fish found in the the Kanawha River. I did learn how to make molds from actual fish but decided I didn’t want to kill any animals for the project so I made these molds from taxidermist copies so it is as close as I could get to real fish without harming a creature. For the first project I created 1000 fish cast from 18 different original molds and continued to make them over the years. I don’t know the exact number, but I would estimate I made close to 5000 in total. The clear resin body represents the “ghost” of the fish and the garbage inside is part of what killed them. The massive numbers I made were to try and reproduce the images in my head of the fish kills I witnessed as a child.