james parlin  
Storyboards / Men: A Brief Survey / A Baker's Dozen / Noah's Ark



            Storyboards shows people for whom something is going wrong, and who are handling it with varying degrees of personal dignity, generally from very little to none whatsoever.  The body of work is pervaded with a dark, but sardonic feel of failure and loss – a small attempt to reconcile the painful with the ridiculous.
            There are four narrative groupings.  Not So Good is an ode to fear and distrust, vulnerability and flight, and real or imagined consequences.  The Great Recession is a tale of lost ground, clumsy perseverance, and tenuous recovery.  Losing Battles is a domestic drama of exaggerated incredulity, adamant self-righteousness, and utter capitulation.  The final grouping, The Week’s End, is a banal and predictable display of self-indulgent release.
            At one point or another, we all have to struggle with things beyond our control –professional disappointments, domestic discord, failing bodies – but the real struggle is the internal one, as we try to cling to our self-respect while other things slip away.


Men: A Brief Survey

           This body of work is about worrisome things – things that happen to us, and things we bring upon ourselves.  It deals with aging and loss, fear, vulnerability and aggression, disease, and desperation.

My ideas for the sculptures usually first took form as drawings.  A number of the preliminary drawings were created digitally, a selection of which was then turned into limited edition prints.  The next stage for some of these images was to make a maquette, or small model.  These maquettes were made directly in wax and cast in aluminum.  The four larger pieces were then each modeled in clay, cast in polyurethane from rubber molds, and painted with acrylic paints.

The work is an attempt to come to grips with how compelling, all-encompassing, and special our inner lives are to us, and how pedestrian, predictable, and generally ludicrous they seem to nearly everyone else.


A Baker’s Dozen

            This is a series of thirteen small scale sketches of my family, friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, and me.  They deal, varyingly and in no particular order with:  eating disorders, dependency, rage, poor judgment, aging, authority, habit, despair, inherited traits, defecating in public, taboos, privilege, fidelity, loneliness, bad hair, intimacy, pets, and ambivalent feelings.


Noah’s Ark

            A number of years ago, I saw an exhibit of Noah’s Ark toys made by 19th Century artisans.  The toys were die-cast pairs of gaily-painted animals, standing on rectangular bases, one each, male and female.  The story of Noah, of course, is that of the triumph of the procreative urge in the wake of the cataclysmic destruction of nearly all that walked, swam and flew.  These toy animals from more than a hundred years ago represented a cheerful and unquestioning sensibility of sexuality as solely in the service of reproduction.  The toys were not sexualized in any way other than by the differences in size and colorization that we associate with many male and female animals, but their mission was perfectly clear:  Mama and Papa Zebra, hell-bent on making as many little zebras as time and good health allowed.
            I could not help but compare this simplistic view of couples and their sexual relationships with the complex, if not absurdly convoluted, goings-on that characterize any real relationship.  Few of us, anymore, feel the need to indulge in unbridled fecundity.  Our sexuality seems more an arena, now, for playing out our needs and desires and our aversions and fears and, only occasionally, for the making of babies.  I decided to make Noah’s Ark toys for our times.