No comments yet

Artist Statement: Robert Dennis

Moral Compass: Artists Respond to Crises

Temple Judea Museum exhibition January – March 2021

Robert Dennis

My Moral Compass

Media: Recycled plastics

Confinement has given us time for introspection. For the artist, creating a hiatus from social norms, allowing additional time to work at home. I was reminded of an exhibit I saw at the The Whitney Museum of American Art called “In the Spirit of Fluxus” The following description was taken from the museum’s definition.    

“The movement challenged aesthetic tradition by investing chance occurrences and the ephemera of daily life with artistic value and meaning.” Attention can be paid to the daily routine, the mundane and ordinary. Why can’t the entire home be one’s studio? Can this confinement in itself be thought of as an art occurrence or happening? Cooking is considered an art form. What about clean up? Freeing the mind to wander in the process, seeing the temporary results as payment. Washing dishes, stacking them in the drying rack, then photographing them. Arranging a bookshelf, pairing down to the basic essentials.  Editing that junk drawer in the kitchen for a still life exhibition? The Fluxus movement maintained, “Everyone is an artist.” Sometimes just calling out or isolating the efforts of everyday living is the art.  

I have collected recyclable plastic objects for quite a while, from fasteners that hold products in their boxes, to discarded game pieces or bits from broken toys, to pieces of no longer functioning electronics. I enjoy singling out and elevating objects that are often taken for granted, and discarded. Even the simplest of these pieces had to be designed and engineered for proper function.  Combining these disparate objects in new unexpected relationships can be very rewarding.

 “My Moral Compass” is comprised of plastic jar lids, a self-imposed restriction to utilize accumulated recycled materials that had been collected for future projects. What do these concentric circles represent, possibly, ripples in time, a graph… a compass? If you look closely you will see indicators that determine direction for my moral compass.