Gastroentomological Infestation


Nostalgia can be defined a longing for a past that never was.   For me there is something comforting about the days of 19th and early 20th century science, philosophy, and art.   There was a heroic individualism that tried to tackle the big questions of life barely aware of the limitations of logic and language we live with today.   Meanwhile, designers, craftspeople, workers, and industrialists fashioned functional flatware continuing the process that began when our ape ancestors first used twigs to find food in an ant hill.   When I work with forks and spoons I often think about each object's past.   From the original ore dug up by the miner to the person viewing the work at this show, every bit of time from the beginning to the present is contained within. These pieces of metal have fed infants and the dying.   Some were given as wedding gifts and used only on special occasions.   While others were purchased out of necessity and used every day.   The stories I find are always longing for that past which never was, while trying to understand that the present never quite is.   There are half-truths all around, like our image bouncing back from the bodies of these metallic things, distorted and distended like a funhouse mirror.                

Each piece of silverware has a unique story to inspire, while physically they vary in workability and form.   With each fork or spoon's particular attributes I bend the stories and objects together.   Imbued with their unique properties, the insect is what I arrive at time and again.   I find this odd.   I see the real cockroaches, flies, beetles, spiders, and scorpions in the world and find a feeling opposed to the idea of sustenance and nourishment.   These critters evoke images of disease, poison, and pain.   Yet, the alarming and grotesque nature of an insect seems strangely sanitized by the silver's metallic sheen.   They are antiseptic and clean, eliciting conflicting emotions and living somewhere in between. The insects that are free to roam about the room feel alive, while those mounted seem to be remnants of something that once was alive.   They exist in a state of suspended animation and in a different state of imaginary being.   Like the caterpillar can be seen in the body of the butterfly, so too can the former lives of the silverware be seen in these insects after the metamorphosis.  

I want to execute a shift from the functional pieces found in secondhand stores into a functionless aesthetic object that I hope in turn will change the way the original craftwork is viewed.   I can no longer look at any silverware without imagining what part of an insect's body it might make.   Yet all around are objects at a similar point of potential transformation, waiting to be coaxed out of their average everyday forms.   This is my primary motivation while working - to bring out something new in whatever material is around me and to highlight the complex beauty that permeates our everyday lives.   Engaging in this process just might offer a more robust meaning to this world.     In the final analysis, if these far flung fantasies fail, I want to make things that at the very least are cool to look at.

I would like to thank my parents Bill and Evelyn, Kristen, Judy, the Jonathan Shore Gallery, everyone who has come to this show, and all my friends who have encouraged and supported me throughout the years.   There are too many to write down for fear of leaving someone out, but the thanks in my heart is more without wax than I can hope to put into words.     



Douglas Koepsel