enamel paint on wood
49" x 46" x 22"
Phrenology was a nineteenth century psuedo-science studying the compartmentalization of the mind. The title was selected because of its relationship to the era of the piece of furniture as well as the evocative flavor of the still life depicted. The piece was also influenced by the metaphysical paintings of the early twentieth-century Italian painters Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra. An example of Carra’s work is reproduced in the upper left corner of the top drawer.
This American Empire chest is believed to have been made in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1830s. The chest features seven of the eight original Sandwich glass pulls, with one brass pull from the same era. After an unsuccessful search for an eighth glass pull to match the others, I resolved the problem through the painting itself: by placing a similar pull of brass in a disembodied hand, a magical transformation is suggested. This is the sort of serendipitous inspiration we seek from the furniture.
Formally, Phrenology continues a study of themes exploring circular and ovoid elements that have been consistent throughout my career, as has my examination of the visual possibilities of overlaid transparent elements (such as veils over objects) and the juxtaposition of pattern on pattern.