Josephine Durkin
Artist Statements:

Statement for There Within Reach, 2014

There Within Reach is a large-scale kinetic sculptural installation that includes five, suspended, double-sided vertical sets, which function as flying machines. Similar to theatrical sets, these mechanical contraptions work to suggest a certain environment. Like theater props, these sculptures purposely reveal their inner workings. The audience indulges fantasy so that props and sets (the surrogate versions of the real thing) can play their roles.  Just as painted wood cutouts with hinged or slotted stands “become” trees, or partial sections of stairs suggest a second floor, There Within Reach relies on similar methods and tropes – the moving piece of torn paper becomes a flying bird, a relatively small portion of vinyl house siding points to both home and construction, while the draped and looped faux wood linoleum suggests the making of the interior.  Additionally, the motors and mechanical parts are visible, showing the viewer how these “birds” can and do “fly.” 

The consistent transparency and fakeness of materials (vinyl siding that looks like painted wood but isn’t, linoleum with the outside print of a wooden floor), along with the honest accessibility of these economically conscious versions of “the real thing” give the audience, the viewer and the homeowner just enough of what they might crave and reach for, should they not be able to afford it, see it, do it or make it. This installation, ultimately, speaks to our ability to construct and allow for a more manageable and obtainable version of our fantasies and desires, while also manipulating the materials, and using them out of context, for the purpose of appreciating their formal qualities. Vinyl provides stripes, the blue diagonal swatch of paint goes back and forth between suggesting a sky and visually participating in an abstract sculpture and painting, and the lime green on the underside of the linoleum accentuates the surface area that is concealed for flooring, but is up for grabs and useful for art making.  The “birds” are made from torn and painted printed photographs, of previously made collages, and function just as much as “birds” as color and line, for the visual experience. 

Finally, the ability to fly on our own, like a bird or an insect, is a fantasy, for everyone, regardless of economic status, flexibility or constraint. Unless born with the ability to fly, we rely on such devices as airplanes, rockets, jet packs and parachutes to get us from here to there, and to help us imagine, what it would be like, to have this capability.  Since flying without physical assistance is unobtainable, it has become a romantic dream, “super power” and desire for many.  It is something we can never have, but crave. For this reason, this flock of visibly low-tech “flying birds” has been paired with other, more obtainable suggestions, of the “real things.”  Similar to fantastical, magical and possibly unrealistic sets and dream sequences in a play, we can create a version of our fantasy that is achievable, and there within reach. 

This work was commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary, for the exhibition Lavish, in 2014.  Thanks to the Dallas Contemporary, and Texas A&M University-Commerce, for funding this project.

Statement for Gathering Flora, 2013

Recent drawings and paintings are generated by the process of object making. The leftover studio residue, from the making of sculptures, is digitally photographed, printed onto heavyweight paper, and used as source material for drawings and paintings, some of which exist as sewn collages. In previous series, parts of the sculptural remains function as tools in the making of new images – flattened paper rocking chairs functioned as stencils, for example, in the Pressed, Stretched series. In the Flora series, bloom-like forms have been created by tearing and sewing digital photographic prints of studio residue, painted paper and Color-Aid paper. This combination of actual, physically present materials (paint and pastel on paper, and Color-Aid paper) with photographic representations of actual studio residue from the making of previous projects, allows for the pairing and exploration of merging abstraction with realism, authenticity and reproduction.

This series of six sewn collages, was commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary, for the solo exhibition, Gathering Flora. Thanks to the Dallas Contemporary and the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences at Texas A&M University – Commerce, for funding this exhibition. 

Statement for Icing (Just like this...), 2011 and 2012

The most recent works reference a personal and cultural fascination with home design and improvement. Visually, the work focuses on excerpts of various processes. These include the actions of rolling paint, stencil use, and cake layering. This current body of work acknowledges our desire for things, spaces and food to be visually seductive while emphasizing our attraction to processes that appear to be transparent and attainable.

More and more homeowners are part of the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement. Countless websites, TV shows and magazines such as www.apartmenttherapy.com, HGTV's Design Star and Martha Stewart Living show us how to make, live, cook and eat beautifully. The most recent series of drawings, sculptures, paintings and installations reference the acts of home beautification.

Statement for Static and Time-Based Work, pre-2011

When there is a possibility that one's curiosity could be observed by others, the viewer may become hyper-aware of their own self-consciousness. The work, whether static, interactive or self-operating, transforms the viewer into the performer, and those who are more distant become a voyeuristic audience. Sexual or sensual communication between or amongst viewers is more inviting when it is facilitated with familiar materials, objects and machines. Pencil sharpeners, sewing machines, and toy handles encourage participation, while kiwi seeds, hat pins and masking tape mute the perverse.

Animating and/or personifying manufactured or manipulated shapes and objects invites the viewer to project particular genders, experiences, memories or fantasies onto these androgynous and ageless human surrogates. The positioning or movement of objects, often spaced to suggest relationships with other, nearby objects, mimic human behavior and can initiate viewer introspection while staging stills or excerpts of attraction, dependency, independency, voyeurism, seduction, communication or conflict.

These actions and feelings are often personal and can be difficult or uncomfortable to remember, examine or discuss. However, the static or kinetic gestures that suggest these conversations, have been isolated and packaged in recognizable and approachable products that are neither age nor gender-specific. These altered objects and images (desks, fans, pillows, chairs, ladders, etc.) become new bodies for human gestures. The resulting drawings, sculptures, videos and installations allow for the intimate or uncomfortable to be more public and accessible.