Carole Epp: A collection of innocent crimes
The sculptural figurative work I produce began as an investigation into the ethical standpoint or position of artists in relation to the subject matter that they present. I have always held a firm belief in the role of art in impacting public opinion, as a space for dialogue and as a source of resistance to injustices in the world. I use my art as a means of communication about global events, however my research has also focused on an ethical standpoint from which to voice such concerns. My work manipulates the figurative collectable to use as a tableau for the presentation of politically and socially minded subject matter. My initial desire to work with the collectible reference was in part due to its representation of aspects of childhood and nostalgia, kitsch and stereotypes, and most importantly – consumption. To speak of the subject matter that I was inspired to work with I chose to work from within my personal context as a consumer. This allowed for the presentation of the subject matter to include the impact that one has upon it through simple daily actions. Through bringing the overwhelming and devastating nature of war, terrorism, poverty, starvation, genetic technology, and environmental degradation back to a dialogue about the individual consumer, I felt that I could offer more positive outlooks for pro-active change in regards to the issues.
The tradition of collectible ceramics has always intrigued me and working within that context has brought further desirable subject matter into the work. It forced the work to exist in a balance between beauty and kitsch, or refined beauty and the everyday manufactured object. I found that I could use the expectations of the medium and the collectible object as an accessible entry point into the work, allowing for a non-confrontational or disconcerting perspective on the subject matter. I wanted to both entice and repel; and inspire a desire to consume alongside an awareness of the consequences of that consumption. The pervasiveness of kitsch objects seemed to be the ideal vehicle for this dialogue in that it not only spoke to the media portrayal of cultural stereotypes and simplification of events and circumstance, but also had the edge of being linked to totalitarian politics and propaganda. Through these associations I aimed with the work to bring to light the media’s role in the proliferation of information and "knowledge" and the creation of the spectacle - which is used as a means of creating desensitization and indifference.
Since beginning this body of work in 2005 it has evolved in different ways, both thematically and visually. The impact of having my own child and working with imagery of children and childhood has propelled the work into a more personal realm wherein issues of motherhood, identity, and childrearing have become part of the larger discussion of the work. My aim with this work has always been to find a space of dialogue for issues of political and social relevance; to tap into the humanity behind the headlines, to address concerns we face in day to day life, and to create an active desire for change in our world.
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