tintypes in custom inlaid walnut cases
10 x 4 x 1 in
Pioneers was made in honor of a few contemporary heroes of exploration, and also with the intention of drawing parallels between two distinct American histories that share closely related narratives. Portraits of The Mercury Seven, Neil Armstrong of the New Nine, and John Casani with Voyager 2 are represented on tintypes displayed in custom wooden cases. The cases each feature inlaid artwork from each corresponding NASA mission patch on the interior, with a relevant passage from John Welsey Powell's The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons (1875) on the front exterior. The styles and mediums used pay homage to antique portraits of early American trappers, explorers, soldiers, mules, horses, and surveyors—all of whom were culturally revered in an uncannily similar light as astronauts, scientists, and spacecrafts.
This series is part of a larger body of work titled Go West and Conquer All Above You, and it addresses the romanticism surrounding exploration and the human tendency to organize geography. It specifically considers the efforts of contemporary space programs in relation to the mindset and attitude of American pioneers of the Westward Expansion. The work was made with the hope of illuminating how an overzealous romance towards wilderness can ultimately lead to the negation of the wildness that was initially attractive. The work was made with the intention of cultivating a future which thoughtfully heeds lessons from the past.
Made in collaboration with Lee Cody.