Andy's Figments is my ongoing art project exploring segments of daily life at Andy Warhol’s grave at the St. John Byzantine Cemetery in Bethel Park, Pa.
Andy Warhol has been an inspiration to many people, a mentor to some, and an icon of art-world success, but for me, he is a “figment” of my artistic process. Andy once said, “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” His ironic “nothing” or “figment” belies much of what he gave the art world during his life and what he continues to contribute today by stimulating our imaginations, including my own. In 2005, through these imagined “figments,” I began talking with Andy at his grave site about my art projects. Over the course of many years, he has never failed to make suggestions in my mind that I have used in the creation of my art.
In February 2009, my once-occasional visits to his grave became more frequent, and I started taking video and digital cameras on my visits. Daily, I documented the many items left behind by other visitors including Campbell's soup cans, Coke bottles, written notes, religious statues, coins, and flowers. Visitors also chose to talk to Andy on video about a variety of issues—personal and professional—including asking him for help with romantic relationships gone bad, being sued for doing art work, getting through art critiques without crying, inspiration, and collecting bugs for Carnegie Museum of Natural History. After almost four years of daily documentation at his grave site, I came to the conclusion that Andy is not dead. In afterlife he continues to transform our ordinary lives into the art of daily life.
In Year VII, I still make movies and collect objects, but now I am also considering the role of a cemetery and what happens at grave sites to explore communal beliefs of life and death, while investigating bigger themes concealed within the idea of celebrity and the public fantasy of Andy.