The Thor's Hammer Exhibition
SOCIAL COMMENTARY USING MARVEL COMICS IMAGERY
Many thanks to
Deborah Charlebois at the Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
Jodi Stevens at the Marion Art Center, Marion, MA
for their generous and professional hosting of this exhibit.
Photography by Tri-Color Labs, New Bedford, MA
About This Exhibit
For a long time I wanted to make my own version of Thor's hammer. When I finally did, I couldn't help but see it as a judge's gavel, a symbol of judicial responsibility. That got me interested in using Marvel images as vehicles for examining other topics, and this exhibit is the result. Some works make a statement, some ask questions, and a couple pay homage. They all follow in Marvel's tradition of including social commentary in stories.
Image: Hammer of the Justices
Dr. Doom's Mask
Dr. Doom, who wore this mask to cover his disfigured face, is a genius archvillain, scientist and inventor of several doomsday machines. He is arrogant and unwilling to accept responsibility for his own actions.
This mask is created from cast coal dust and the sculpture expresses my concern about our environment.
She's Not Alone
As the female superhero Captain Marvel confronts the evil Thanos, a wounded Spider-Man wonders how she'll be able to survive the battle alone. We hear two women's voices, Scarlet Witch saying, "Don't worry," and then Okoye saying, "She's got help." Suddenly, one by one, women of the Marvel Comics Universe materialize and unite to have Captain Marvel's back ... she's not alone.
Details of Captain Marvel and Okoye
Loki's Scepter and the Mind Gem
Loki, Thor's evil half-brother, wielded this scepter when he commanded an invasion of earth. It is powered by the blue mind gem, an Infinity Stone capable of altering mental characteristics.
The gems, both the lighted one in the scepter and the white ones at the base, are cast versions of OxyContin tablets. This is my commentary on Purdue Pharmaceutical and the opiate crisis.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In Marvel movies S.H.I.E.L.D. is a fictional law enforcement and counter-terrorism agency which is at times infiltrated by criminal elements, making its motives ambiguous.
As the U.S. immigration debate continues, solutions are far from clear. For this piece I used the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo as a starting point but replaced its central image with the logo of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In 1984, as a public service, Marvel Comics collaborated with the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse to issue a special Power Pack edition. In that edition Peter Parker, Spider-Man's alter-ego, is portrayed as having been abused as a child. The story is used to educate young people about how to respond to inappropriate touching.
The Soul Stone is one of the six all-powerful Infinity Stones and allows the user to alter living and dead souls. This is my view of the human costs of the prison pipeline and mass incarceration for profit.
The “stone” is cast soap.
Stan Lee was fortunate to live a very long creative life and become the face of Marvel. Lee became well known for his many memorable quotes. I looked them up and used them to create this homage.
The Death-Throws are a fictional team of juggling supervillains who each use various juggling props as weapons. I thought the hand-grenades an appropriate image by which to comment on our lost ability to communicate across political party lines with civility.
Captains of America
The shield used by Captain America is iconic, but his shield has a star in the middle. I replaced the star with a dollar sign as an observation about the power of corporate control over politics.
The shield is a modified Flexible Flyer snow disc.
Sword of Damocles
The Greek story of Damocles tells of a sword suspended by a thread that could break at any moment. Hanging over the king, it alludes to the fragility of power. Marvel adapted the story for Damocles Base, a sword-shaped orbiting enemy headquarters hanging over earth as an ever-present threat.
I adapted the stories to symbolize the situation of those who have barely enough resources to get by and could be financially devastated at any moment by an unexpected expense.
The glass between the two figures is a two-way mirror. The figure on the lighted side sees his own reflection. The one on the darker side sees what appears to be his reflection, but which is in fact the first figure standing on the other side of the mirror. Observers will notice that the two figures are not identical.
This piece uses Black Panther action figures and pays homage to a 1969 Star Trek episode.
Redwing is a hawk used for reconnaissance and controlled through telepathy by the superhero Falcon. This interpretation is a scale model of the $876M US Navy X-47B semi-autonomous drone vehicle. They made only one and, even though it worked, canceled the program. I covered my model with 125 one-dollar bills.