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  1. 03 Devon DeVaughn

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I create installations that use humor and the visual language of the domestic space to disarm and analyze emotional discomfort in order to create a more whole sense of self. The work invites those who choose to participate to consider themselves in a similar manner and to empathize with the forms that populate the installation. I’ve included dogs, the home, and mothers as subjects. Not meant to be a form of therapy, the work also connects to the social politics of the domestic space, gender roles, and our partnership with animal companions.

My practice draws comparisons between domestic space and mental space, as they are both iterations of where and how people live. I’m particularly interested in how both require upkeep and maintenance, in order to be comfortably habitable. This is portrayed through the idea of the carpet, a material that requires constant vacuuming but still retains bits and pieces of all that have lived on top of it: it serves as body, record-keeper, and comfort object. There are other comfort objects in my work, such as pillows and dog imagery, that are meant to disarm emotional discomfort. Dogs are particularly important to this, as petting dogs has been shown to reduce stress levels. They also serve as witnesses to all that happens within the home. Imagery that is suggestive of a mother figure relates back to maintenance, as the mother fills the role of caretaker, housekeeper, and child rearer in a society that revolves around a patriarchal power structure. The beige color palette refers to domestic spaces, as well as a neutral “non-color” that is impartial to that which populates the home. I relate this to the desire to simply analyze, rather than extinguish, emotional discomfort in my work. I also employ a sense of humor through crude drawings, using materials that were excreted from my dog, and making stuffed forms with floppy limbs. Humor is incredibly important to my work, as it is a defense mechanism and a tool used to disarm, making discomfort more approachable and easier to analyze. I am hopeful that my work can instill a sense of kindness and understanding in those that choose to participate with it.

The work is meant to make participants feel welcome upon entering the installation. This is especially important in a gallery setting, as I (and many others) find them to be sterile, uncomfortable, and intimidating. I want folks to know that they are not alone in feeling discomfort.