Graduate Alumni > Advanced Fiber Studio (Highlights)

Robert Bettinger (Spring 2012)
Robert Bettinger (Spring 2012)

My work is based in fiber through both material and process, and conceptual interests. I use fabrics and various hand stitching or screen-printing to create objects and environments relating to domestic space and body adornment. I heavily decorate my work with patterns or embellishment. The strong connection to readily available craft material and kitschy home décor challenges the problems and expectations of the fine art gallery space and the fine art market. I infiltrate the preconceived notions about what art is and how it should be looked at and interacted with particularly within the traditional gallery space. I am inspired by the private space in our homes and how they act as personal galleries decorated with domestic objects. I am interesting in similar ideas about dress on the body and how it reflects on our personalities and identities. I present ideas in a less-than-serious way while utilizing a gallery style of installation and I approach my audience with the intent of playfulness.

I am also conceptually concerned with the perceptions of being gay and being an artist. I incorporate ideas that reside in the stereotypes of what being a gay man means like; femininity, domesticity, flamboyancy and ideal sexual bodies. I approach these stereotypes borrowing images from advertising, online gay social networks, and pornography. While my work is concerned about how gender roles exist, I am also more broadly interested in identity and the communication between two sides, such as, artist and audience or public and private. I work in the public and encourage interaction to create communication through visual patterns and the tactile quality of textiles. My work references communication through the simplification of images or symbols into patterns and decoration similar to the way textiles have historically communicated certain meanings and cultural messages through pattern.

Historic research plays an important role in the early stages of developing my work. By understanding the use of textiles and processes unique to certain cultures I am able to adapt similar ideas within a contemporary context.