These images are of mixed-media sculpture I have made so far for my installation piece, His Room As He Left It. Everything is handmade and approximately life-size. I've been working on this for some time now, and I use this site as a way to see it objectively. Posting helps me understand how my work is going. Thanks!

Birch Bark, 2013 Gouache and pencil on cut and glued paper


I am writing a novel in 3-D. It’s the coming-of-age story of Drey Fank, a boy of 19 from the imaginary small town of Sparkleton, Pennsylvania. My finished piece will be a roomful of sculptures, each replicating an item belonging to Drey, and arranged as in his bedroom for the viewer to examine. On the desk will be his diary, from which the viewer may read. Every object- the diary, desk, bed, beer cans, bass guitar, birding gun, taxidermy, toiletries, knick-knacks, newspapers, clothes, photos, pinecones, the room itself, etc.- will be handmade by me.

Chevaline Beer Can, 2004 Acrylic, graphite and shellac on cut and shaped aluminum

The viewer will be invited to peruse the room and gently handle the objects to piece together the details of Drey's life: He wanders the abandoned pencil factory looking for leftover pencils and hangs out at the petrified crash-landed flying saucer off Route 918. He and his fellow locals hunt songbirds for sustenance, and in simple honesty he stuffs and mounts them exactly as he found them in death. He smokes Oak Smokes cigarettes, drinks six-packs of Chevaline, and eats Rabbit Rinds chips. His favorite dish is chickadees with cheese. His "girly" magazines feature squirrels with acorn caps over all eight of their nipples. He is experiencing an awakening in himself. From the diary: Why do trees have to smell so good? My walks are getting longer and longer cause I have to stop every few feet to sniff bark. He is shy and naive, and he kills time with his friends until a series of events- beginning with the diner grease fire- spark a lust for life, whereupon he leaves home for Erie and the Unknown.

Wooly's Dinor Matchbook, 2005 Ink on cardboard, sandpaper, ash, pigment, wire

The contents of the room relate life in his world, which is between ours and another. The passengers of the stranded UFO have long since bred with the locals. Everyone gets along. These and other absurdities express my ideas: Perfection is functionality, not flawlessness; utopia is subjective and cannot exist; paradox is inherent. Atrophy is inevitable. Live before you die. Animals R Us.

A Trophy, 2011 Polymer clay, wire, cardboard, paper, ink, paint pen, cotton, cut and rolled and dyed bristol with blotter paper

Like so many before me, I like to glorify ordinary objects by making fake ones, but I've no interest in "fooling" anyone. My main aim is to use these things to tell a story. The diary accompanies the several hundred sculptures, but is not a necessary read for comprehension of the piece, just as sifting through someone’s abandoned belongings is poignant enough without all the mysteries revealed. The newspaper, various notes and letters, and a movie script written by Drey's friend Brian also provide different views of life in Sparkleton. I hope that people will comprehend my piece as they would someone’s real existence. It’s not so much a piece of artwork as it is a reflection of a life.

Oak Smokes Cigarettes, 2007 Package: Colored pencil, ink and acrylic ink on paper, aluminum leaf on paper, silverpoint, cellophane Cigarettes: ink and burnishing on handmade paper, oak leaves

by the way..
Sparkleton is not based on any real place except my brain. Little bits of everything around me (people and places) are woven in, amalgamated or as direct references. Northwestern Pennsylvania is an inspiration but it's not about Northwestern Pennsylvania at all. 
that said, sincere thanks always to everyone I've met in NWPA.

hrahli (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Easthampton, Mass USA

all images and original writing copyright 2003-2019 Ariel Kotker

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