Duff Bassett

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Artist's Statement


My work centers on an exploration of place and its relationship to identity and self.

I was born in Oklahoma but my early life took me through varying places of residence. We lived in a few cities across the South and Midwest and in rural settings. I acquired a tenuous sense of place for each of these locations.

My extended family stayed put in less transient homes in Oklahoma, and these places served as geographic points of stability and grounding in contrast to the frequent relocations. My family lived the myths and realities surrounding the westward expansion, some homesteading in Oklahoma and some immigrating to America from other countries and homesteading in other places before settling in the more urban environment of the state capital city. Others cast away indigenous identities and assumed non-native status. Through these people I gained initial connections to my birthplace and current home.

I also acquired a sense of portable, if not universal, place and identity early in my life. Outdoor activities became important and gave me connection to the natural landscapes of the areas where we lived. I have gained an appreciation for the surface landscape, geology, flora, fauna, seasonal weather patterns, and night skies of those regions, telescoping outward my perspective of place and time.

My adult life has brought me to work with the built environment, building, rebuilding and servicing the structures that contain and support people's needs, dreams and desires. These constructions embody the attachments and interactions of people with their environments, and my involvement has deepened my participation in that connection.

I draw themes from these experiences and observations and represent notions of place-oriented identity in my work in several ways. Sometimes I extract and create a formal and aesthetic interpretation. Other times I take a more documentary approach to suggest symbolic, metaphoric or conceptual ideas. Frequently I introduce several approaches at once. Presentations are made in a variety of media and form including video, photography, sculpture, installation and mixed media.