Background + Design

My jumping off point for Model Killer is the work of Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy grandmother who built intricate miniature crime scenes in the 40’s and 50’s to train detectives in assessing visual evidence. I am experimenting with injecting the idealized settings of dollhouses with the macabre to expose the fraud of domestic tranquility.  I will use these heightened, artificial spaces to reexamine romantic notions of innocence and the happy endings pushed by fairy tales, spoon-fed to us by the mass media.

Model Killer
Bisected Dollhouse Research Image: Courtesy of the artist

I am researching artists like Laurie Simmons, Thomas Demand, and James Casebere, who subvert the historically feminine craft of miniatures while highlighting the artifice of models. I have also been studying patterns of female serial killers to create a fictive world in which I can illuminate how our construction of gender is colored through the lens of aggression and how our views of aggression are shaped by the fiction of gender.

Puppetry is a well-suited medium for grisly subject matter – heightened scenes of violence that flirt with the precipice of dead and alive. I am inspired by the idea of models, themselves becoming the central storytelling device – a distancing site for reenactments – where scale and time can shift fluidly.

In the final form, I will guide viewers through darkened rooms filled with dollhouses, dioramas, performing objects, puppets, and miniature sets which I will activate, so they can be witness to giant crimes and tiny cover-ups.