Disillusionment of the Toiler


The Disillusionment of the Toiler, a large scale ceramic and mixed media installation, was commissioned for the 2016 Everson Biennial Exhibition: Kindred Beasts.

At the Everson, my installationThe Disillusionment of the Toiler offered my response to The Apotheosis of the Toiler, also known as Adelaide Robineau’s Scarab Vase.  In 1910, Adelaide Robineau spent over 1000 hours creating this vase which is the most sought-after work by visitors to the Everson Museum. My approach to making the installation was inspired by Robineau's elegant renderings of the scarab (dung beetle) on this vase.  The scarab works its way diligently upward toward its "food ball" - the intricately carved finial at the top of her vase. As I was installing, I watched YouTube videos of dung beetle rolling their food balls (balls of dung) in pairs.  Questioning Robineau’s romantic vision of the glory of work, I collected and incorporated ceramic shards from the site of the now defunct Syracuse China factory.  Founded in 1871, the popular American ceramics company closed on April 6, 2009, eliminating 275 local jobs.  Laid-off workers expressed anger at the closure and at the loss of the business to cheaper overseas labor.  Quotes from local newspapers included: “We took pride in our work”, and “I never called in sick”.

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