"Self Portrait," March 2011.
Mixed media including: glass Jar with silk ribbon, ordure, zipper, resin, and glass glitter; Polaroid photograph with resin and glass glitter; X-ray photograph; found items: box, dresser drawer, bathroom window in frame, found wood, salvaged light, 19" x 8½" x 34"
It was during the third grade class placement test when I tried to block an oncoming sneeze by holding my nose... and accidentally ripped a giant fart.
The silent and work focused kids started screaming. The organized rows of desks exploded in all directions away from me. One kid fell on the floor and scuffled away like a horrified crab. The teacher leapt up waiving a ruler at the unhinged children, and I sat like an island at my desk, churning in shame. That was a defining experience. Inset was a deeply negative association with a necessary function of my body, a real fear of farting.
I was born in New Haven Connecticut, and grew up in the area where all the industrial waste from the factories was sent, called "Waste Haven.” There were several landfills, recycling and toxic waste processing plants, a beach closed due to biohazard bags and bloated diapers dotting the shoreline. There was a veterans' hospital with a high suicide rate, and a few active cults who hung around like rival gangs in the park at the end of my street. Surely unrelated, I found a dead body in a trashcan at that park when I was about 6 or 7. Mostly I remember a vivid red and blue lightshow mingling with the leaves of the trees.
My father was a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman with a gambling problem and a bad temper. My mother was a girl robbed of her dreams by an accidental conception, her first child, me. She had 3 kids by 23, and she admittedly hated her life. My parents were disappointed and resentful. However they upheld their idea of what was supposed to be, like a sparkling glaze over a piece of shit.
We lived in a house not far from the tracks. It had primary colored rooms: the kids' bedroom carpet and wallpaper were red.
My best friend lived across the street and on the edge of a polluted lake, later discovered to be an illegal dumping place during my youth there. We would skim the dead fish off the water before we could go swimming. Her apathetic parents let us do as we willed, and thus my appetite for danger was born. We spied on the neighbors, treasure hunted in the storm drain, and bathed in the lake floating on a truck tire with a bar of soap.
My best friend's house was a joyful respite. My frightening home life manifested in my guts producing a stool no more than once a week.
By High School, I had completely fallen through the cracks of the very broken system. I dropped-out of school, disassociated from my entire family, and went to New York City where I started working at the Limelight Nightclub. I was 17, and it was 1993, the year I began untangling my sick and twisted guts.
It took many years, but as I began to love life, I learned to love myself, functions included.
I present this very literal portrait of myself in contrast to my shining smile, made of things I collected for free.
Onward to the Exhibit!