Danny FerrellAdjunct Professor of Art
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, in a small town of no more than a few thousand residents. Deeply conservative, most placed religion above all other virtues, and anyone deviating from religious law was treated as a herald of immorality. I was a man whose love for other men violated the cultural norms, forcing me to conceal my personal life from others in the public sphere, often causing severe feelings of guilt and alienation.
My paintings represent fantasies and fears about the ‘Other’ through depictions of the everyday queer male. Working within the tradition of the Cadmus Circle and Hudson River School, I perch the figure on the edge of the quotidian, where lush landscapes, colorful gradients and intricate patterns interact to create a ‘magic reality’ that is both ordinary and extraordinary. A formal and conceptual tension is at play, which is structured by ever-present dichotomies: public/private, nature/culture, taste/kitsch, transparency/opacity. Loosely based on my own relationships, experiences, and imagination, my work functions like a daydream, where memory and longing shape a personal fiction.
Recently, I have been gesturing to the vast canon of European royalty painting by blending the epic and banal in painted images of gay men and their dogs. This combination quotes the pageantry of that history – their rich garb and over-the-top landscapes – and in so doing, elevates queer bodies from second class, to royal class.