P. Roch Smith
I believe that play and creativity have a fundamental relationship. Playing with materials, forms, scale, texts, objects and toys are the threads that I work with in the studio in attempting to weave new forms. My sculptural work explores the intersection of memory and loss, the domestic space, identity and collecting. I am engaged with the physical structure of work and seek dialogue about the making of objects – both intimate and large scale. I strongly believe that the well-made object is the fundamental basis for any meaningful artistic production.
The concept of play is relevant to my concerns, notably the idea that creative solutions might be found within a sense of play – of the possibilities that play offers. In the creative act, it is often beneficial to undertake “serious play” as a means of generating solutions and objects. Using toys as a foundation material is a natural fit that I have gravitated toward as a means of speaking to my concerns. Toys have always fascinated me – how they function and how their meanings can be ‘read’. For such simple objects toys inhabit a complex space – a space that might not be exclusive to issues of socialization, aggression, domesticity, violence, gender and cooperation.
My most recent work explores scale, restructuring expectations, hybridity and the violence of play. The work transforms plastic soldiers, skateboarders, Lego blocks, model bombs, tanks, planes and ships by casting them in bronze – a material traditionally used for monuments or grand sculptures. In many ways I hope to challenge the medium’s historical prestige, casting at a scale that renders the bronze anti-heroic.
The structures speak to work and play: small people supporting larger house forms, pushing “body-sized” orbs uphill and shoving large blocks of LEGO up a ramp. The Sisyphean nature of the images might at first speak to a sense of futility, however, I would hope that it might also be read as an honest representation of the integrity of work and the importance of being intentional in our efforts.