This project is based on the squatter communities of developing countries, often referred to as slums or shantytowns of the third world. These communities make up a large portion of cities like Mumbai, Nairobi, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. There is a commonality among the subtleties of domestic home life that seems to cross social boundaries. This has led to an investigation into Western perceptions of so-called "Third World" poverty as they've existed through out history and as they exist today.
This project began with a series of 7 paintings with the subtitle "Informal Domesticity". These paintings depict domestic scenes of squatter life, recreated in my studio as a still life. The format of the 7 paintings is based on scientific illustration during the height of colonialism, referencing the history of foreign representation in Western Society. The accompanying paintings and sculptural installation speak of the relationships between the squatter imagery and American consumer culture.
The piece Tub, Sink, & Washer depicts a stack of large plastic jugs alongside an arrangement of Aquafina brand water bottles. Running water exists in very few homes among squatters. Usually a communal pump is used to fill storage containers, which will be conserved and used for domestic purposes. This act, when done out of necessity, may be perceived as sad and unfortunate, but if someone in a quaint American suburb was doing this same act, it may be perceived as environmentally heroic and might even generate some media attention. Understanding these perceptions can give insight to how we come to see and know that which is close to us and that which seems a world away.
American consumer culture both prohibits and promotes environmental change in many different ways. This project serves to highlight consumer waste as a vice of modern society, while reminding us of the contradiction in being an eco-friendly consumer. It also challenges the polarized thinking that characterizes American society, in hopes of sparking new conversations about the positive/negative duality present in contemporary poverty.