Andrea Campbell







In Vanitas, I contextualize my work within contemporary society as I am interested in the dichotomy that is occurring throughout western culture.  While on the one hand technology, medical innovations and global trade push us forward, financial crises, international and national conflicts and environmental degradation are ever more present.  Despite efforts to prolong and improve human life, our existence remains in a fragile balance.

Using rife symbol (gold/alchemy) for the larger philosophical ideas at play, I participated in an artist residency in Puebla, Mexico to research and work on the Vanitas series.  Focusing on pre-Columbian and baroque techniques of gold leafing, through the process of making plaster molds to adorn with gold, I began to photograph and document the process, and suddenly became aware of my innate obsession with preserving and archiving fragments of the lived experience through my own art practice.   Using decaying foods, discarded objects, and outdated technological devices, I seek to represent our contemporary experience.

I see the Vanitas sculptures as artifacts derived from the debris of contemporary life.  The objects on their own have little if no value, but are the remains of daily human life.  Like the Vanitas in the 17th century the objects can speak to individual and cultural wealth, while making reference to life and its transitory state.  For example, fruits in various stages of decay represent the ephemeral nature of life, while also symbolizing the global interconnectedness, since these fruits are often not indigenous to North America and mostly imported from other parts of the World.   The discarded coffee cups, cans, and water bottles are the residual waste of a fast paced culture.  The objects are preserved using Armenian bole clay and gold.  This labour intensive process shows signs of the artist’s process and uses a process prior to the technological revolution.  The use of organic / earth based materials reconnects to our environment, where the work speaks of the loss of this connection in a fast-paced, globally connected existence.