Sculptor Nathan Prouty’s Graduate Thesis Exhibition, A New Kind of Living, encompasses miniature representations of his own life inside custom made snow domes which, according to the artist, attempt to simultaneously hide and expose his own unease with the world around him.
Snow Domes by Nathan Prouty
The 5″ x 3″ x 3″ domes, which are a nod to the knick-knacks and souvenirs one accumulates over a lifetime, spotlight handmade and painted earthenware miniatures that reflect items in the artist’s world. Some contain items representing his lighter side -classic gags such as a hand buzzer, a double-headed nickel, a rubber chicken, a whoopie cushion, a banana peel and a chattering teeth.
The artist’s darker side is expressed by snow domes containing such miniature handmade and painted items as a wall from Aushewitz, a mushroom cloud, turds and a marijuana bud. In between lies everything from chewing gum to a fire hydrant – even iconic entertainment icons such as Charlie Chaplin’s Cane, Jughead’s Hat and Disney Mouseketeer Ears.
Compartmentalizing individual items and setting them upon a table for display as a group, Prouty has placed his own world inside little worlds we can view one at a time.
Below are several pieces from the 2014 installation, A New Kind of Living, shown at the Trisolini Gallery in Athens, Ohio.
Waffle with butter and syrup:
Charlie Chaplin Cane II:
Mousketeer Ears Hat:
Double Headed Coin:
Whoopie Cushion II:
Stack O’ Gum:
Auschwitz Death Wall:
Pile of coins:
Tatlin’s Unfinished Monument:
The snowdomes in his studio:
Artist’s statement: The Boy in the Bubble
“I am overwhelmed.
The incessant input of stimulation – ideas, conversations, revelations, objects, sounds, images, and reflections – are often too much to bear. Systems of understanding and history are dragged from one person, one family, one culture, to the next; prejudices, traditions, and values hitched along for the long journey forward in time. We cling to ourselves often to the exclusion of true logic, collective progress, or common sense, resisting anything that even hints at a risk to our sense of self. Distilled from years of cultural memory in all its various forms, the modern human condition is just plain nuts. The accompanying ideas of conflict, angst, optimism, desire, frustration, longing, fury, loss, and potential-but-thwarted humanistic development are my obsessions and baggage.
My current work is an attempt to harness the power and anxiety of these uncertainties from behind a self-defensive position of the dumb and frivolous. Packaged in slick, colorful, concentrated bundles nodding to both the knick-knack and the souvenir, I attempt to both mask and reveal my unease with the world and culture around me from behind a disarming disguise of foolishness. Instantly read as odd, funny, weird, or goofy, I think of my work as the punch line delivered before the set-up. In working backwards towards discovering the actual joke, confusion, uncertainty, and disorientation take hold — if only for a brief instant — and the darker things bubble up and momentarily gain prominence.
Through humor, one is able to linger just a bit longer in what would otherwise be dangerous territory. When wading in these murky waters without such a protective layer, I feel that I have overstayed my welcome. In order to cope, I bundle and combine stuff, associations, and histories into surreptitious tableaus that seek to undermine one’s self-assured understanding of identity and experience. Ultimately, I am a stand-up comedian who doesn’t want the attention.” -Nathan Prouty
About the artist:
Nathan Prouty received his BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and received his MFA from Ohio University in 2014. He has worked in various capacities at galleries both in Boston and Philadelphia, as a miniature model-maker for film, and most recently as a teacher of drawing, ceramics, and sculpture in continuing adult and higher education. Prouty works in ceramics and mixed media, using glitter, glaze, resin, and anything else that fits the bill. He is co-founder of Bandipur Studios and is currently working on its debut line of ceramic housewares.