About Robert McAn

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Robert McAn creates cultural tableaus using the mediums of sculpture and photography. Through pairing objects and scenes he creates narratives of suspect definition. In many of his works it is the tenuous relationship between the objects that suggests an implied or resultant meaning regarding societal ideals and myths. Often lively and sometimes banal, a playful abandon saturates the work. They tend to be profound at one viewing and absurd the next.

Artifice brings together new photographic work and mixed-media sculpture y the artist. In the sculptures, odd scale and unusual installation startle the viewer while simultaneously drawing them in to examine the possible meaning. Materials in the sculptures include miniature objects originally found in toy stores and flea markets, combined with hand-made out-of-scale environments. Surrealist flowering trees, super-sized high chairs, teeny tiny tableaus describe but a few of his works. Recent photographs continue his long-term interest in the relationship with history and contemporary image-making, and again speak to the myth of cultural symbolism and history.

A characteristic of play or having fun is evident in most pieces. The introduction of objects which remind the viewer of the joy of childlike play and mess-making abounds. In the sculpture Daydream, a small ledge sits against the wall. Seemingly growing from the ledge one finds a disfigured tree; its wishbone shape almost looks like a water divining rod. One branch is filled with the leaves of a colorful fall, while the other lays dark and lifeless, all leaves removed. The poetic beauty of the object is broken when examined closely. Perched on the desolate leafless branch, two figures sit astride looking away from one another. They sit apart. At one point, the sculpture seems extremely beautiful, but there is another facet, one of a darker content, the almost frightening height at which the figures sit, implying danger and chaos. How did they get there? What are they doing? The distance between the figures also creates discomfort in the viewing, and begs the question: are they together or apart? The overall meaning of the piece is questionable, although several answers are implied, but not necessarily realized.

McAn says about his work, “I really don’t try to say anything with my work. I simply load them and code them with symbols. Human nature and the way it is represented in our culture intrigues and repels me. I do not sanctify art-making or art objects, I just try to have fun, maybe break the rules a little, and refine, redefine symbols.”

When viewing the works of McAn, the hook, to coin a theatrical term, is apparent. The objects and symbols are familiar to us all. These are works that speak to everyone, although no one knows for sure what is being said. The artist says about the works’ meaning, “For me, they’re a type of poetry, non-verbal communication, an afternoon of playing, a mess, a myth, a parody, or maybe just a profound absurdity.”

Robert McAn has a Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Painting from the University of North Texas. His works are included in major private and corporate collections. McAn has been an adjunct professor at both Austin College in Sherman, and at the University of North Texas in Denton, and was President of the 500X Gallery in Dallas in the early 90s.


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