THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BEING HUMAN
By Nathan Spoor
The worlds of Thomas Doyle lie preserved in perfect stasis. His meticulously secured moments of curiosity, humanity and factuality forming the voices of a silent choir, etched from the very footsteps of our daily histories. From his New York studio, the Michigan native speaks of his progression from avid daydreamer to methodical modeler of the psychological and physical states.
Thomas Doyle moved from Northern California to the bustling metropolis of New York City in 2003. His pursuit: freelance writing to support his visual art habits. Having attended Humboldt State University, he concentrated his time on painting and printmaking, while garnering a generous talent for the written word. Before completing his degree plan, however, he saw a different vision of his life and took a much-needed sabbatical from which he would never return.
It was in New York where he found what would be his “voice”. Upon realizing the freedoms of leaving the academic realm, he began playing with different media. The magic of his youthful days of creating dioramas built in shoeboxes would soon manifest into a form that would fascinate his inner nine year old. Thomas felt that, given the limitations of the painted surface or the printmaking process for his vision, he would enter the dimensional realm. This new direction would incorporate his fascination with the written word, and he began keeping volumes of journals of text ideas that would soon become his personal encyclopedia of artistic titles for his pieces. Here, in the freelance world of writing and with the flexibility that this enabled him, he began his formative endeavors. He began one, then several sculptures, all the while building lists of hundreds of penned “hooks”, as he lovingly refers to them. He was on his way, ready to step into the new version of himself. And the best way to get his feet wet was full immersion – trial by fire – the process of living by doing.
Doyle’s process is not composed of the struggles of digging for ideas or pleading for images to come to him. Rather, ideas for his work comes from the active process of sketching constantly, allowing the image to appear and be refined over time. Once the idea is present and understood he moves quickly to modeling the idea within the immediate and fairly permanent nature of the plaster stage.
The artist’s very narrative approach to sculpting brings the viewer a timeless stage for his tiny dramas to play forward. His is a struggle to bring that narrative forward, to tell stories that stand the test of time itself. And in these solid states, Doyle’s handiwork manages to abstract the qualities of joy and anguish without overstating any direct correlation to either.
When asked about the possibly ambiguous nature of his work, he commits to breaking it all down into three distinct categories – or theories, if you will: Distillation, Reclamation, and Bearings. He makes it clear that each theory is separate from the others, but that the lines of the greater narrative blur when the pieces are viewed side-by-side.
The body of work focuses mainly on family life, with scenes set in the realms of domestic settings. As he created and formulated these pieces, Doyle found himself immersed in those childhood experiences that grow to distinguish us as the adults we will eventually become. Through the lens of his mind’s camera he froze those moments and shaped a visual personality of scenarios distilled from both positive and negative growth.
The polarity and extreme drama of these still moments are wrought from arguably the most potent and fiery of emotional scenarios: Romance. More straightforward than subtle in their delivery, the Reclamation pieces bring their subjects together and isolate them. In their solitude, the pain and joy experienced by the individuals being characterized in the tiny drama are offered up for scrutiny by their own direct intentions.
These works are notable in the direct allure of their isolation. The main character is generally a man in red, separated from the rest of the world. It is man vs. nature in its basic form, with man facing down the indomitable forces of nature. He feels the isolation from others, his home, being in a “couple,” and is often found reveling in the overwhelming odds of his chosen reality.
Doyle couples his works with a refined understanding of text in his titles. He enjoys reading historical authors mostly, focusing on situations like war or human conflict that can push a person to the limit. This might be surprising, if not for the fact that the artist himself has chosen such a path for himself in his own life. Having come to the understanding that his painting or printmaking choice was not the best match for him, he left his college curriculum for the bigger world. He became, of all things, a medical technical writer, and wrote medical educational text for physicians.
But this did not suit him to perfection, so he continued his search in the concrete jungle of the Big Apple. It was here that he began fiddling around with the shadowbox ideas of his childhood. Through his curious explorations, he found that glass domes best complimented his presentation, giving the piece and viewer a mutual disconnect. When the glass is on top of the situation, the figures and landscapes form a very romantic sort of relationship in which a particular fullness is achieved. The glass, in a way, keeps the viewer disconnected and enclosed in a claustrophobic space, allowing the drama or anguish to exist in its own very personal frozen moment.
Thomas Doyle’s classical presentations of distilling the human experience bring a very precious aspect to protecting a delicate moment – often at odds with the very nature of their narrative. He is not sure where this road will lead, but one thing remains clear. He will pursue them on a larger stage, bringing the personal environment into a larger and more ambitious scale. At present, one piece could take as long as 50 hours to produce, with several scenes in production at any given moment, mostly due to their various stages of drying times. And with no interest in restricting their growth, or his own, he finds the unknown and unclassifiable nature of this future to be his truest satisfaction. In this manner, Thomas Doyle finds the greater state of his own existence: the fundamentals of being human.
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BEING HUMAN
Feature by Nathan Spoor
Hi Fructose Magazine
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