The sculptures that I make are driven by a desire to investigate how an individual’s personal history affects their identity, behaviors, and actions. I am especially interested in intergenerational trauma and how a person’s past, particularly a past that has been interrupted by a traumatic event such as war, can influence patterned behaviors that are passed through the family. I focus on characters that take their cues from Western ideals of a collective identity. I am utilizing images, patterns and symbols found in specific notions of Western identity and psychology to create my characters, yet I am displaying them in environments that are unfamiliar. The element of fantasy that is thus created shows how the past and the present, dream and reality, conscious and unconscious, familiar and unfamiliar can exist together in an environment that is uncanny, much like the way subconscious memories of a traumatic event can be very much alive in our conscious actions.
I am interested in questioning the archetype’s role and how the collective identity can be harmful to the family when these roles cease to resonate. What happens when an individual’s psyche is altered by a traumatic event and one’s ability to fulfill their implied role slowly dissolves? What happens when a wound is so deep and so painful to deal with that one becomes emotionally numb in order to survive? How will this effect a father’s ability to provide, a mother’s ability to nurture, and the patterned behaviors that are passed down to their children? What happens when the child resists these patterns?
I am exploring characteristics of the Western collective identity by referencing both Social Realist Monuments and Hummel Figurines. The rendering qualities of the Hummel figurine are a visual trigger of a specific language of social idealization of the child/childhood. Their chubby, red cheeks and full bodies, their curious, sweet gestures, doe eyes and sturdy wide stance represent health, happiness and an uncorrupt innocence. The pedestals that they stand on are adorned with green grass, flowers and creatures of the forest that would typically be afraid of people. The Hummel is a symbol of unblemished purity.
The Social Realist monument is a symbol that I am using as an emblem of the collective identity in the implied role of the adult. The strong angular features and solid bodies that are glorified in their enthusiastic and intense gestures on top of their massive pedestals were used to promote nationalism and to encourage a unified desire to fulfill their duties to their families and their country. I am attempting to show a crack in the façade of the lack of complex emotions that both representations seek to convey. The figures are being removed from their known identity and environment in order to show conscience coming into play. The heroes will show a flicker of doubt in their aim and the children will question what they are witnessing.
The pedestal that both the monument and Hummel are presented on is a stage that represents their unrealistic social idealization and removes them from reality. When the pedestal is removed, turned over, or sinking, their vulnerability is revealed and their true, flawed human psyche is apparent. By portraying the child and adult in my chosen styles, I am allowing the viewer to have an expectation of the character’s ethos, but I confuse that expectation by introducing a notion of the conscience. By portraying a glimmer of thought, a change in gesture or aim, the line between fantasy and reality is burred even more. By conveying the sense of the conscience in otherwise unconscious figures, I hope to stimulate pathos between the character’s situation and the viewer.
artists website: http://andreakeys.com/
Acquisition note: I was lucky enough to purchase this piece directly from the artist. Andréa was in the process of transitioning from her MFA student-status to her first academic post when I approached her about wanting a piece for my collection. “Katrina,” she told, me was the first piece that she created in Baton Rouge, LA, following the storm that devastated New Orleans. Andréa’s work often illustrates complex dualities of childhood – demonstrating both a sweet sensitivity at the same time as portraying a twinkle of menacing or destructive quality.