A 20-volume set of encyclopedias chronicles the vast regrets that accrue over a lifetime, from the humorous (Unwatered Plants, Awful Haircuts) to the very real (Derailed Ambitions, Guilt Over Children).
Altered books, a washboard, and other objects loosely form a cross in this work that depicts the consequences of institutional and culturally sanctioned. In the case of the Magdalene Laundries, which existed in Ireland from the mid-19th century until gradually ending in 1996, enslaved young women as laundresses so that they could “cleanse themselves of their sins.” Most who entered these asylums died there, forgotten by family and society.
“The Red Food Diet Revolution” comments on the ceaseless production of books offering the elusive key to self-improvement (in this instance, shedding pounds), along with the public’s willingness to accept such advice.
Aside from using the book form as metaphor for “reading” the inner life, as I’ve done with several pieces, I also use the books to comment on the literature itself, as well as to poke a bit of fun at the publishing field itself, as in “Self Help.” The same themes come out year after year, promising life-altering changes that often are elusive.
In “Things Women Shelve,” little images of brassy 1950s “cheesecake” girls are mounted on bottles labeled Talent, Independence, Courage, Ambition, Confidence, and Passion. These traits, so embodied by youth, often go missing as one traverses into the morass of adulthood.