Charmed Life

Section of tree with vine; marine shells; copper tubing assembled with stainless steel screws and epoxy; Portland cement mixes; acrylic paint and sealer

2014

Dimensions: 69 x 44 x 29

Using a vine/trunk as the figure’s torso or core, and shells as various parts including an ear, Charmed Life is an homage to our symbiotic nature—all that bacteria in our gut that really influence the way we think and feel. It’s kind of perfect the way organisms enter into agreements and support one another, hence the “charm.” Finding the universe full of conveniences, we imagine that we are special, but maybe the real charm is that we are not special, we are deeply integrated, cleverly used and supported by other creatures.

Charmed Life is the last in a line of works that I called humanoids, strange variants on the human figure that stand on two legs and one elongated arm. The idea is that you have to get the figure to stand so why not be obvious about it, and make a statement about biological adaptation? I invent volumes that don’t relate completely to the anatomy of the corresponding body part—hollowed out and truncated. It’s remarkable to me how through all this adaptation, displacement, and shape-shifting, the human figure remains.

Curious fact: The vine wrapping around the trunk of the tree that was growing in my yard created a spiral-shaped channel and caused the trunk to bulge in perfect spiral form. I was able to remove the vine and neatly lay copper tubing in its place.

© 2018 Phillip Stern