Dan Gunn

Region: Midwest

Born in Kansas and based in Chicago, I make work centered around imagery from the American Midwest. Wood-paneled basements, roadside memorabilia of the West, and agrarian symbols were the norm when I was growing up. My work increasingly investigates the ideological function of this imagery, both for political purposes and for the formulation of male subjectivity. My drapery works, the Scenery series, are made of pieces of plywood I have cut and laced back together with cord. I photograph actual draped textiles and modify the images in Photoshop. While flat, the works picture dimensionality and, while whole, they exist in a multitude of parts. As objects they mimic aprons, tablecloths, or quilts. The plywood carries the sign of wood, historically associated with masculinity, which Roland Barthes describes as a “poetic substance” that has a “natural warmth to the touch.” But plywood is the least romantic of woods, being a decidedly industrial product. Similarly, the activity of making the draperies combines labor and technology, challenging easy romanticization by the maker.