Vivianne Lee Carey
Medium: Multimedia Sculpture
Show: Vol. 2
This sculpture entitled The Things They Carried, based on the novel with the same title by Tim O’Brien , represents the physical and emotional journey of a soldier. The visual narrative addresses transformation by means of mundane and precious objects that soldiers often carry; transformation on many levels, from life to death, from innocence to experiencing grief and horror on a daily basis, and ultimately the transformation from body to spirit.
These objects such as bloody boots, helmets, dog tags, photographs, candy, medicine bottles, guns and hand-grenades reflect the passage of time symbolically through the dark, aged-color palette, the iconic imagery, and the dichotomy of deadly and life-giving objects. The double entendre implied by the heavily chained boots represent safety and bondage as do the objects on the chains. The bat near the boot is significant in that it is symbolic of an omen of change that represents death and rebirth.
The Things They Carried was primarily inspired by the materials given to me by the show’s curator, Robert Chambers. These items arranged together the helmet placed on the soldier’s rifle, the tip of the rifle placed in or near the soldier’s boots and the dog tags hanging from the weapon is often called the Battlefield Cross; it is the sacred marker that represents a soldier who died.
I was born in Millville, NJ in 1959. Carl Sandburg wrote, ”Down in southern New Jersey they make glass. By day and by night, the fires burn on in Millville.” As a sculptor that forms metal & glass by fire, the poetic lines are an affirmation of the materials I utilize in my work. I received my BFA from Converse in 1981, and an MFA from Winthrop University in 2016. I have been honored to have received several grants for regional public sculptures.
My art is about brokenness and bringing things back together to form something beautiful. The bits and pieces of detritus that I usually use in my work, such as bottled locks of human hair, butterfly wings, seed pods, and small scrolls of cherished poems rematerializes into dark corsets, mystical bottles, formidable chairs and brooding gate sculptures. These materials are juxtaposed against a white ambience to reflect innocence, evil and the divine.
With clumsy mortal media, I attempt to create a beautiful nightmare as I wrestle with the dichotomy between darkness and light, melancholy and joy, and grace and disgrace. I’m interested in the investment of qualities of spirituality and sacredness into objects of art. Employing primarily a dark neutral palette, the sculptural objects and installations which I have created are a metaphor for the darker aspects of life, the grief and sorrows, with a regenerative perspective.