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Island Funeral, 2020




When young, I loved the Mormon creation story. It is similar to the traditional bible story but I was taught that we, God’s children, assisted with creation. As I roamed the mountains of home, I thought “I must love this landscape because I helped God make it.” This, of course, was absurd. Once I left Mormonism, and came out, the stories that connected me to nature collapsed and I faced terra incognita. Since then, I have been concerned with the narratives we use to connect to Nature and more specifically the absurdity and usefulness in personifying nature to do so. I have created rock alphabets to suggest that Nature is talking back. I embed them into sculptures, installations, and prints of personalized landscapes. A key to decode the narrative is always included. For this proposal I will be “collaborating” with American landscape paintings that glorify our “virgin wildernesses.” Inserting my own drawings into these works I am recasting the “virgins” as ebullient volcanoes that are cracking open the Catskills and releasing volcanic alphabet stones. The original paintings are complicit in Manifest Destiny, in which my Mormon ancestors played a large role. As their queer, Utahn descendent, I aim to help reset the narrative. These works are also self-portraits. The narratives embedded in the works are taken from my life experiences. They are tied to frontier masculinity, Mormon patriarchy and virility. They respond to sexism and charges of over-emotionality and mental illness leveled at LGTBQ persons of my generation. To achieve these prints, I obtain high resolution images of the paintings from museums. On my tablet, guided by the geology of the landscapes, I overlay my drawings, and insert my alphabet stones. I aim to make my additions distinct and a seamless part of the original. I digitally print the original painting then painstakingly screen-print, by hand, my work onto the reproductions. Edition: 10

Artfare code
Available for pickup

prints | mixed media | drawing


23.00 x 60.00 x 0.25 in | 58.42 x 152.40 x 0.63 cm

Artwork location
Shawn Bitters Studio
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