Nathan Vincent refers to his work as “masculine objects”. In one installation, guns are mounted on a wall and positioned facing the viewer. This display should intimidate and feel menacing, yet just the opposite occurs. Vincent’s guns are not made from metal, but of crocheted yarn. In this piece, as is the case in all of Vincent’s sculptures, masculine objects are transformed, made feminine by material selection and fabrication.
Concepts of gender, masculinity and femininity, are important to Vincent. In his artist’s statement he explains:
“My work explores gender permissions and the challenges that arise from straying from the prescribed norms. It questions the qualities of gender by considering what constitutes masculine and feminine. It critiques stereotypical gender mediums by creating "masculine objects" using "feminine processes" such as crochet, sewing, and appliqué.”
Since graduating from Purchase College, SUNY, in 2004, Vincent has created a diverse group of sculptures. He has pushed technique to the limit, crocheting a series of trophy animal heads, a bear skin rug, a life-size lawn mower, tools, gas masks and many other objects associated with men. The work can be tricky to interpret, seeming both funny and intensely serious at the same moment.
Vincent also crochets two-dimensional works which he calls doilies. These flat pieces are reminiscent of traditional dollies seen in Victorian homes in the late 1800’s. Intimate in scale and with decorative edges, they pay homage to an antique art form. However the subject matter and the images rendered propel these pieces into the present. In one doily, a pair of men's underwear is the centerpiece of the composition. The contrast of modern underwear, placed in a traditional form, challenges expectations.
Locker Room, an installation from 2011, was Vincent’s most ambitious and mature work to date. Originally conceived for the group exhibition, The Mysterious Content of Softness, at the Bellevue Arts Museum, Seattle, WA. As a technical achievement, the work is impressive. The idea of a locker room for men completely made from crocheted yarn is unexpected.
While it would be easy to see Locker Room as simply charming and somewhat funny, the installation is also a deeply thoughtful work of art. According to Vincent, “It seems men are constantly struggling with the balance between vulnerability and strength. It made sense to me to create a space where this complex relationship of vulnerability and obvious masculinity on display was expressed.”
Vincent’s sculptures may vary in format, but the conceptual underpinning is consistent. These works do not confront, but cajole us to reconsider our assumptions. Quietly, and with a bit of humor, Nathan Vincent wants his audience to think about complex issues that define core aspects of his and our own personal identity.
For more information, please www.nathanvincent.com.