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SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI: Thus Passes the Glory of the World
AuthorCombs, Mark L.
Master of Fine Arts
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My social interactions, behaviors and peculiarities have been altered by the repeated exposure to blood, gore, and psychological trauma experienced in the Air Force medical corps. The sights, sounds and smells of battlefield injuries intensified those experiences. Those incidents were numbed behind the professional curtain of medical protocols and my humanity was filed away in an effort to maintain my mental health. Unfortunately, files can be opened; mine were wrinkled, rummaged through, disheveled, and put back in such a way that making sense of it again is a nearly inconceivable notion. The objects I produce examine the human condition using memories, life, death, injury, and healing as inspirations. The artwork has the feel of the memento mori, and vanitas motifs restyled with a modernized appearance echoing death using skeletal references. I have chosen tactilely and conceptually opposing materials that broaden the interpretational meaning to the bones I create. Steel is the main component. It is cold and hard and is forged from minerals like bone, but never living, essentially a dead material. Wool is the opposing element, a soft and fibrous substance harvested from sheep in its natural bone white color. It is used to balance the hardness that unfinished steel presents. The use of these materials in unison generates a yin and yang juxtaposition bringing metaphorical significance for building emotional responses to the work. Living with my memories would be a death sentence for many. I set humanity aside to save myself, now I am ready to face it again. The sculptures I have created, like the memento mori’s from the past, are a reminder that death is coming. It is a reminder to seize humanity and address life and mortality on a daily basis, to live.
“Fallen” consists of sixty individual steel and felted wool bone sculptures displayed on pine planks elevated four inches above the floor. “Mark L. Combs: DOB 10/31/1967” is a video projection displaying both a continuous clock and a countdown clock. The continuous clock starts on “10/31/1967” and displays time in years, months, days, hour, minutes and seconds that the artist “Mark L. Combs” has been alive. The countdown clock is counting the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds to the artists estimated (theoretical) time of death at age 78. This display is achieved through the commercially available phone application entitled “Last Day,” and was projected using a standard projection system. “Baby Doe: DOB 04/15/2019” is a video projection with the same information as described above. In this case a fictitious character born on the day the show “SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI…Thus Passes the Glory of the World” opened with a countdown to a theoretical death at age 75. “Reflection” is a sculptural collection of ten steel bones resting in glass cylinders with one pound of ground steel resting in the bottom. The cylinders are housed in mahogany cabinets two feet high and one foot wide and are illuminated with LED lights from within. The ten cabinets are wall mounted with ten “funerary” chairs facing them six feet away.
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