wax, acrylics, vinyl faux plants, styrofoam apples, clay, wire
This piece was based off of an illustration I did in high school out of complete boredom, featuring creepy man with fruit-bearing facial hair looking complacently at two children vomiting worms after taking a bite of his apples. Needless to say, those apples are not suitable for consumption.
After that illustration, I really wanted to try to create this being in real life. To me, it was humorous, but to others, it was disgusting. I’ve noticed that in a lot of my work, a recurring theme is the archetypal “creeper” man, complete with facial hair and a neutral gaze. This clearly falls under that category.
In my sculptural version of “Harry”, I initially wanted to have him hanging off the wall of the gallery, but I decided against that because if he really were that creepy, he would not make himself so conspicuous by placing himself in a foreign site. A man with a copious rancid apple orchard as a beard hardly blends in with the whitewashed walls of the gallery space. With that idea out, I decided that he would be most at “home” in a bush, where he would blend in with his natural surroundings. But despite blending in, the sculptural form of Harry could never become part of nature. Being the pedophile-esque creepy type, he is not only an alien and a menace to society, but an alien to his surroundings. He, sadly, has no home, and despite mimicking nature through his constituent artificial materials (like vinyl plants and styrofoam apples), he is still discernable as a stranger to the natural world. Even the maggots that inhabit his apples are fake, for real maggots find no sustenance in styrofoam. Unfortunately, he has no body, and is doomed to dwell where he can never fully assimilate.
Harry’s facial features are painted to make him look pleased, but his eyes stare blankly. At first glance, he resembles a Christmas wreath and seems to bear juicy, red fruit. However, a closer look reveals that he is infested, and is consuming his own rotten fruit. The fact that he is happily consuming a rotting product of himself only adds to the uneasiness, made disgusting by the single worm hanging from his painted lips. In fact, the apples could almost be growths from some kind of disease, similar to glistening, pus-filled boils. In one of harry’s hands, he holds evidence of his self-consumption, while his other hand invites the passerby or viewer in through its open-handed gesture, signaling the viewer to partake in the consumption of his abundant beard-apples. But from the looks of it, it would be wise to decline.
Aside from drawing from the Christmas theme, “Harry’s Beardapples” also references illustration, having a narrative to it (after all, it originated from an illustration). In addition, it relies the apple, which carries much symbolic weight, referencing Genesis with fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and almost becoming a cliché fruit. It even evokes elements of our language culture, for many of our sayings pertain to the apple: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, “to be a bad apple”, “an apple never falls far from the tree”, “apple of my eye”. As a culture, we seem to be apple obsessed.