Detail of stained glass prior to smashing with leaves underneath.
ARTIST STATEMENT MO RINGEY
I was mainly a painter until a random act of vandalism presented a challenge and challenged my course. I began working in tempered glass about 11 years ago when my car window was smashed outside my apartment in Boston. I had been expecting this day. Every morning I stepped over a fresh pile of someone else’s window remnants, someone else’s problem, hardly giving it a thought. Strangely, the fact that I was the victim this time made my own personal pile of glass look quite brilliant and hopeful. I gathered and saved the pieces and eventually made a small sculpture. This project so inspired me that I have spent the years since experimenting with various invented techniques for working with smashed tempered glass shards.
I was especially drawn to the challenge of creating with such a random and unpredictable material. Tempered glass is commonly known as safety glass and is made to resist breaking. Perhaps this is part of the allure; the challenge of breaking the unbreakable and then putting it back together to create a beautiful and meaningful whole, from the wreckage.
Smashed glass is often associated with accident, crime, vandalism, perhaps violence. I see it as a metaphor for that part of all of us, the residue of past trauma and pain. We hardly notice other people’s smashed glass and step gingerly over it, yet we see our own. We are all composed of fragments of our past experiences, present lives, hopes and dreams; amalgamated by hope, healing, adjustment. By using this medium to create something new is, for me, a metaphor for the never-ending evolutionary process that is a human life .
My recent work is a series of sculptural self-portraits with a certain quixotic fixity of purpose. All the pieces are assemblages - representations of fragments of memories. I use domestic objects and appliances as the base because they are part of my own domestic history. Each of these objects represents a set of memories or a bookmark to a place in my past, mostly those of my self as it evolved as part of my family and particularly as part of my grandparents’ household. We have an unspoken and rarely pondered language with which we interact with the objects that form the backdrop of our daily lives, the things which we take for granted. I grew up fascinated with the objects of my grandparents’ house which for me was refuge and museum, of a sort.
I use all appear at my door unbidden, making my work fate-based. Friends
bring washers and vacuum cleaners; strangers hear about my work and
call or email with offerings from their basement or their grandmother’s
house. Sometimes objects just appear on my doorstep, hopeful. They
somehow find me; to me they come calling for a psychic reupholstering,
begging to be transformed.
The tale of Pinocchio is a classic example of this fascination, being a tale that has endured since 1883, and whose original audience was intended for adults, drawing from classical sources, such as Homer and Dante. The world was so taken by this tale of an object which not only came to life, but faced such harsh realities of survival such as the need for food and shelter and the basic necessities of daily life, that even though Pinocchio died a gruesome death in the original iteration of the tale, it was adapted for children and its fascinating allegory resonates still. And so, I often refer to my work as the adoption of, and psychic nurturing and reupholstering of, the objects that ask it of me; appearing at my door in a metaphorical basket. That they then go on to delight and amuse is to me a fulfillment of their aspirations and causes me much joy.
My work is
influenced by everyday life, past and present, Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van
Gogh, Marcel Duchamp and the Crackelure of the Song Dynsasty.