Stripped to its skeleton, my work is about the
difference between truth and reality. I think of reality as everything
that exists, with or without human observation. I think of truth as the
ways humans interpret reality.
The flesh of my work — what I
address directly — is how truth and reality relate to human conflict.
People naturally, it seems, want their own definitions of truth to be
universally accepted as the definitions of reality. These competing
definitions — all equivalent insofar as they are interpretations of
reality — are the origins of human conflict. From bullying to hegemony
to conquest to genocide, humans hurt and destroy each other to gain
dominion for their own truth.
Materials used in my work represent
both reality and interpretation: natural materials like earth,
minerals, water and vegetation are the basic elements of the physical
world, created without the aid or craft of people; man-made materials
like paint, glue, fertilizer, metal, video and recorded sound represent
our crafting and reshaping of reality. I want my work to both mimic
reality — the untouched lithosphere, biosphere and atmosphere — and
convey the liminal realm of truth — ambiguous, debatable and subject to
Here are some more images from my BFA Thesis Exhibition. Photos are courtesy of Christina Shook Murrey and Tino Mauricio.
The first shot is an overview of the whole installation; the two videos, which were made in collaboration with Billi London-Gray, the large painting on the wall and the sculpture on the floor. The top video is titled To Prohibit Strife and the bottom video is With Sure Clear Knowledge of What Happened. More about the videos to come later. But in the meantime, here's a link to the trailer for With Sure Clear Knowledge:
Daniel Bernard Gray The Walls Had Doors and the Doors Were Open to Anyone With the Will and the Heart to Get Here, 2012
Alkyd enamel, Ironite fertilizer, Greensand fertilizer, diatomaceous earth, pollen, gunpowder, asphalt, cement, lacquer, silt, saltpeter, sulfur, eastern red cedar and cacti skeleton on panel and canvas,
78 x 126 x 10 inches
For those of you who don't know your inches that's 6.5 x 10.5 ft. And for those of you don't know inches or feet it's 198 x 320 x 25 cm.
Sculpture with painting in the background. The object on the panel opposite the creosote bush is the skeleton (actual term) of a prickly pear cactus. I collected it from a friends property in Marfa, TX. Marfa had a really hard freeze a year and a half ago that killed lots of cacti. In this example, the whole plant died, all at once from the freeze. The dry conditions of the desert left the skeleton of the plant perfectly in tact.
Daniel Bernard Gray
a City Upon a Hill, 2012
Silt, cement, creosote bush and cacti
skeleton on two panels
48 x 66 x 48 inches (122 x 168 x 122 cm)
The creosote bush emits a chemical out of its roots that kills or suppresses the growth of other plants, thus allowing it to keep all of the available resources to itself. I find this behavior to be powerfully symbolic.
Why is it set inside of a cement block? I believe that the cement links the bush to humanity in a way that wouldn't happen if the bush was simply placed on the horizontal surface. Humans make cement. Humans make things out of cement. The symbolic significance of the plant is thus linked to humanity.
If I was more on top of things I would have posted this a week ago or more. My BFA Thesis Exhibition came and went this past week. It went real well and I thought the exhibition was full of lots of great work from 16 different artists. I had a large painting, a sculpture and two videos that I made in collaboration with Billi London-Gray. Here's some pictures and I promise to get more images up soon.
This is after setting up last week on May 6th. That was a long day.
At the reception on May 10th, with Billi London-Gray and our friend and artist Tal Hollingsworth.
In front of our two videos at the reception. We might be posing just a little bit
In the next few months I'll be launching my website, however I'll still be keeping this blog. The blog will be more informal. So works in progress, oddballs, etc; basically things that don't quite fit on my professionally geared website. For example, something like this post. Here's a couple things I did in Illustrator and Photoshop. Quite different from the rest of my work, but something that interests me.
The two images are made of text that reads:
Get out the chloroform and get out a rag
Get out the chloroform and get out a rag
What there is no chloroform then get another strap
I make heavily textured paintings that use materials such as sand, dirt, cement, copper sulfate, glue, latex, oil and acrylic. I am interested in questions about truth and reality and how these questions relate to human conflict.