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"Kill off the sacred bear. Kill off the ancestral crocodile. Kill off the myth-wrapped tiger. Kill off the lion. You haven't conquered a people, or their place, until you've exterminated their resident monsters."

- David Quammen, Monster Of God

"Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent."

- Judge Holden, Blood Meridian

           
The characters that inhabit Cormac McCarthy’s novels live lives that are often brief and filled with deep loss and pain. They are endlessly coming to grips with the common tragedies that befall them and us all. And while McCarthy reflects the cruel indifference of the universe and it’s gods towards the plights of humans, he also demonstrates with visceral candor humanity’s never-ending crusade to subdue our natural environment and bend it to our collective will. It is this precarious duality of both the hapless victim and brutal annihilator that I am exploring in this work.

My work is an investigation into the tools and techniques employed by settlers, ranchers, and distant corporate interests against the native wildlife, landscape, and indigenous peoples of the North America during and since the period of Manifest Destiny. What does it mean to impose a semi-arbitrary logic on an often featureless landscape (West Texas, The Great Plains, etc)? How does it feel to come face to face with the  deceptively and cruelly simple apparatus used to control and dominate animals, both the ones we make use of and live with, and those we loath and seek to destroy? Can a looped length of ¾” rope really bring under control a wildly bucking feral mustang?

Embroidery is a meditative activity for me. The pace and attention to detail gives me a new perspective and demands a longer consideration of a given subject than my relatively quick drawings (which speak more to a lifelong, severe attention deficit). It is an art form capable of many contrasts, employed throughout human history by both the rich and the poor, for both functional and decorative purposes, and is capable of stark simplicity and deep, rich intricacy. My sculptures represent a different facet of this same exploration. Forgotten relics, handcrafted and life-worn, with implied though often unknowable histories. These objects become proxies upon which we project our understanding of this bygone era.

 

Shawn William Creeden
2013