Artist Statement

Large Figures:
The philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty suggested that consciousness was embedded in the lived body and its perceptions. My large figures question how individual bodies with perceived energy, weight and movement relate to historically produced fantasies of anatomy and being. I’m interested in an individual’s dialogue with both constructed and projected identities.

My interest in moments of transformation has led me to examine gothic and grotesque images of the body. Garbing oneself in the monstrous has its appeal. The grotesque offers a potential escape from constricting social definitions and allows for powerful re-imaginings of the body. However, coalescing into a monstrous form is dangerous, as monsters seldom come to a happy end in our cultural narratives. What begins as liberation often concludes with condemnation and capture.

I want to bring the lived body into this particular conundrum of the grotesque. Sculptures of figures are object-beings. They exist in an uncomfortable realm between living form and captured trophy. I want my form’s expressions, surfaces and poses to underline this tension and make it palpable.

Smaller, Domestic Pieces:
My smaller works nod to decorative traditions. They are designed for the home and individual ownership. These pet-sized allegories draw from 19th century animal sculptors, Asian ivory carvings and anthropomorphic vessels. These smaller pieces often have an element of childish delight and uninhibited play. They are both consumer friendly and a psychological counterpoint to the larger figures.

Collaborative Work:
Trisha Kyner and David Friedheim met as instructors at The Crucible, a school devoted to linking arts, industry and community in Berkeley, California. Their first collaborative project involved leading a group of students and volunteers in the fabrication of large paper mache sculptures for a public arts festival. The success of this experience led them to form the collaborative Grendel’s Mother.

Since 2001 David and Trisha have completed over ten projects that have ranged from permanent outdoor sculptures to parade floats. Together they strive to bring art that combines the monstrous and the playful into public forums. Their projects have included collaborations with Youngstown State University, the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, the dance troupe Galumpha and the City of Baltimore.