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Undergraduate

The Great Beyond

2009

Phil Scally
Great Beyond Every piece of work that I approach is given one goal. That goal is for it to convey and express an idea that is honest and genuine. It needs to be a living and moving extension of who I am; anything less is a failure. My main struggle in this life is answering the questions of who I am and what makes me. It is not so much what my goals are but identifying what it is inside that makes me tick as a human being. Using art is how I try to answer these questions. Over the past four years I have been working on a solution. That solution is what subject matter I should use as my conduit beyond self-portraiture. I dug and dug trying to find what my voice was. Dissecting all of my interests, hobbies, social and political views all seemed to lead nowhere. I would do interesting works that were successful in their own right. They, however, lacked that connection and purpose that I was looking for. I had an epiphany one summer as I was looking through my photo album. Pictures of friends and family were not the images I would see, but those of nature and animals. It was then I realized what I wanted to do: use a connection between nature and man. There is a certain affinity I hold for the animal kingdom. It is a love that was made having many pets throughout my life. The cliché of a dog being “man’s best friend” is a phrase that has rung true time and time again. There is a naturally occurring honesty within the personality of any animal. It is within this honesty that I find interest. They do what they need to do in order to survive, adapt and fulfill their instinctual urges; natural instincts that are shared by all creatures of this earth from ground hogs to human beings. This is what bridges us all together as inhabitants of the earth. So I take the human figures and add elements of other animals to them. The end results are these hybrid creatures. Abominations of humans with animal features grafted onto them that create a very raw and intense experience for the viewer. However, shock value is not what my work is about. The creatures that are depicted do not exist to be monsters that hide under the bed. Instead, they are views into something that many struggle to oppress and express their entire lives - views through the window into what it is to be human created by metaphors representing emotions and characteristics that can be very abstract and obscure. It creates a sense of unease seeing someone for who they truly are, or even to have a self-realization that takes you beyond the understanding or expectations that you may have of yourself. By giving human figures these features, I strip away a certain layer of illusion while creating a deeper layer in which to pry. Whether it’s with the snout of a pig, the snarl of a wolf or having the horns of a bull, these creatures help to portray a message of the primal nature of humanity. The challenges I fight as an artist and a human being are those of identity and purpose. Every night I lay and contemplate how that dying day has brought me closer to a self-realization. It is never in these thoughts that I find the clues to who I am regardless of how hard I labor. I know that the eyes that look at me in the mirror are not gazing on the real me. It is a false vision, the proverbial book cover. Where I do find solace and direction is in my work. Blank pages transforming into the story of who I am. Honesty, immediacy and emotion are the core traits that I put into my work. They are also the qualities I expect my work to exhibit. If it fails, then it is redone. Some pieces go two, three or fours layers deep before coming to a finished and satisfying state. If you were to have me try to define to you what a finished state is I would be hard pressed to give an honest answer. With proportion, perspective and composition set aside, for those can be easily classified as successful or not, the best response I can give is the piece is done when it tells me it’s done. It’s when that true connection is made and I see that reflection I am looking for.

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