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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 together on a never-ending slog through time. We cling to ourselves – often to the exclusion of logic, collective progress, or common sense – while 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 which nod to 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, gross, 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 received a BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and an MFA from Ohio University. He has worked in various capacities at galleries in Boston and Philadelphia, as a miniature model-maker for film, and as a teacher of drawing, ceramics and sculpture. Widely exhibited nationally and abroad, Prouty works in ceramics and mixed media, using glitter, glaze, resin, and anything else that fits the bill. His research revolves around the history and baggage of craft and popular culture, while exploring ideas about the American Dream and its associated victory culture, angst, mementos, memories and our collective longing for—and self-sabotaging of—progress. Prouty is represented by The Lacoste Gallery in Concord, Massachusetts.