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Artist's Statemeent for "Oxymorons on the Road to Collective Insanity"

“Passive aggressive”, “virtual reality”, “fake news”.  Oxymorons can bring levity to lies and make them sound matter-of-fact.  They also symbolize our age of mendacious “information” sowing confusion and mistrust of the very notion of objective facts.   This simple rhetorical trick has become a potent political weapon, and in our polarized society, honest and open public debate is now nearly impossible.  In recent decades much artistic talent focused on deconstructing cultural assumptions and language.  Now it seems there’s little left to build with.  Everything is true or false depending on the assumptions of the hearer.

If “insanity” is defined in part as deviations from a group’s generally accepted behaviors, is “collective insanity” possible or just another oxymoron?  Could a group who supports laws and policies that undermine its own ability to make a living be considered “collectively insane”?  If only a minority within the group recognized the contradiction, who would consider whom insane, and who would suffer the consequences of the judgment? 

The sculptures in this exhibit suggest the agony of these questions but offer no answers, no relief.  Some of the sculptures are cathartic, some are confused, but they all bear some edge of anger.   Such emotions may not resolve the social problems we’ve created or allowed to develop, but at least the emotions are sincere, and that’s a fact.  Artistic inspirations for them include the dioramas in natural history museums (of course), Henry Moore (for his nature-inspired forms), Georgia O’Keefe (for her skill with scale), Sue Coe (for her passion and politics) and Kara Walker (for her irony, humor and politics) among many others.