John Ahearn creates sculptures based on life casts he takes from people he meets in his neighborhood. Interested early in his career with making art that emerged from the community, Ahearn spent sixteen years living and working in the South Bronx (New York City), a predominately African-American...
John Ahearn creates sculptures based on life casts he takes from people he meets in his neighborhood. Interested early in his career with making art that emerged from the community, Ahearn spent sixteen years living and working in the South Bronx (New York City), a predominately African-American and Latino urban, working-class neighborhood. Casting would often take place in the open on the sidewalk; everyone was invited to participate, and the process became a community event. In his practice of working with individuals whose access to fine art and museum culture has often been limited, Ahearn has chosen to represent individuals who by tradition have not been memorialized in art and museums. Through his work, Ahearn has revealed the heroic dimension of everyday people; his work is an archive of lives that have rarely, if ever, been documented. Ahearn developed his characteristic style as a sculptor around 1979. He makes a mold of his subject with a quick-setting material used by dentists and then he makes a plaster cast from the mold. Each work is painstakingly detailed in order to capture specific attributes of the sitter, from the type of clothing they wear to the attitude they possess. This sculpture portrays two brothers, Raymond and Freddie Garcia. Ahearn has depicted each in separate sculptures, but this is his first portrait of the two together. Due to the relative complexity of the pose and composition, the artist made three molds - one for each face and one for their clasped hands. Freddie, the lower figure, is afflicted with HIV and the protective and comforting arms that Raymond throws around his brother attests to the loving relationship between them. This testament of brotherly love and family bonds is essential to Ahearn's characterization of the two men.
The artist; with Brooke Alexander, New York, 1993; to MFA, Boston, 1993 Through funds provided by AT&T NEW ART/NEW VISIONS and the William E. Nickerson Fund
Museum purchase with funds donated by ATandT New Art / New Visions and the William E. Nickerson Fund
Reproduced with permission.