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Tracey Harnish

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Devastation of the American Dream

Posted: 12/14/11 12:54 PM ET

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Firing For Effect, Mixed Media, 44" diameter, Courtesy LeBasse Projects


Thomas Doyle explores scenes of devastation in miniature. Detailed scenarios display fragments of earth and home destroyed by some unnameable horror. Gaping holes, half destroyed houses, houses suspended magically above ground, are all part of a war torn tableau where tiny people confront desolation in destruction. These are visuals of the aftermath of an array of possibilities. Did nature wreak havoc in the form of a meteor? Was this the result of a manmade fiasco? The result of war? Bombs? Or did aliens attack? There are objects, even whole homes, buried in dirt, blackened ground, and cavernous holes that leave only blackness in sight. In every display we see an adult holding or leading a child so that we are constantly reminded of how this demolition of life impacts families and the innocent.


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Proxy (1340 Chippewa Dr.), Mixed Media, 16"x14", Courtesy LeBasse Projects

The tiny figures that populate the landscape, do not have expressive faces yet emotion is obvious in each scene. The pieces have a shadow box feel to them because each episode is contained in some kind of vitrine like container, including a large suspended sphere that is a whole world unto itself. The physicality of these isolated containers adds to the feeling that daunting separation has left families to fend for themselves, with no help coming, no one to share the catastrophe with. No society seems to exist where there is a shared effort to over come the ruination. A quiet sadness and desolation fills each scene, as if the end of the world has come upon us.

Home and family have been represented by the houses we live in since the '40s and here we see the end of something that has been an integral part of the American Dream. The current mortgage crisis and the millions of homes that have been recently foreclosed upon, come to mind, as we literally watch the end of the American Dream for friends and family, and the strangers we read about. It's the end of a notion that has been so familiar as to be a foregone conclusion; that we all strive to make our nests in structures that become more than just homes. They are the places where we live, grow, change, perpetrate our values, desires and dreams.


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Armistice, Mixed Media, 25" x 21" x 8", Courtesy LeBasse Projects

In one encapsulated vitrine, we see a woman with a suitcase leading two children through a forest. Are they lost in the wilderness as they come close to the edge of the end of the world? Buried beneath their feet in the ground below we see remnants of the past. Yet as they wander through the greenery we can't help but feel a little hopeful that a new start is before them, perhaps the beginning of the beginning.

The show runs through December 17 at LeBasse Projects.