Sunday, March 8, 2009

Heath Ballowe

Heath Ballowe
MFA Printmaking

The Persecution of Saint Bartholomew

My work is about structures, and how those structures are put together. I am interested in the idea that through dissection we can discover unexpected information simply by going through the motions. In The Persecution of Saint Bartholomew, I wanted to reproduce the making of one of the most famous depictions of skinning in the art world, Marco D’Agrate’s sculpture of Saint Bartholomew. In the sculpture D’Agrate is able to create a horrifying image of the torture and martyring of a Saint. This image has been part of our culture for hundreds of years, and through this image being in existence we have become desensitized by its painful imagery. By using a material in such stark contrast to the original marble, I wanted to perhaps recreate the initial experience of the sculpture before it became a mundane object, and let fabric, a common every day material, become something uncommon and even possibly gruesome by transforming and carving it a new existence in the world much like D’Agrate did in the fourteenth century.

Part of making this piece for me was also studying the historical connotations of marble in contrast to textiles. Carving something out of marble is the most masculine form of art making, the metaphorical connotations are an endless list of how man can dominate the earth and how man hunts for the perfect stone, while the making of textiles is stereotypically a feminine art. In acknowledging obvious truths about these media and combining these two ways of making, I hope to be able to create a kind of dichotomy between the masculine and feminine.

Artist Statement

When I was 10, I went on a hunting trip with my dad. Even with me, as a noisy tree-stand-mate, he managed to kill a buck. We dragged it back to the cabin, and proceeded to prepare it for gutting. My dad decided to try something new after we got started. He cut the insides away from the hide, but didn't remove them completely. He wrapped a rope around the back of the deer, under the skin, and tied the legs to a tree. He hooked the rope to the winch on the front of his Chevy 4x4 and threw it in reverse. The guts of the deer flew out of the skin just as he had planned.

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