Christopher Chinn & Ehren Tool
Chinn & Tool: Bivouac
Exploring the intersection of veterans and homelessness, this show brings together two artists who confront difficult, related and often over-lapping issues. Los Angeles is not only the homeless capital of the country, but also claims the unfortunate title of homeless veterans capital of the country.
The news media has documented a plethora of stories about veterans and the difficulties they face with the return to civilian life. Reconstructing family, life and limb, constant battles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, among a multitude of issues most of us can hardly imagine, constitutes the daily life of countless vets.
When used functionally, Ehren Tool’s cups occupy our consciousness with an innocent and subtle gesture, taking a drink of a favorite beverage. When displayed in a gallery they overwhelm us, the greater unit of cups with its straight and conforming lines confronts us, wholly strong and proud. Individually however, each cup is nuanced and fragile. They coax us to remember and consider, as Tool says, “the pain, waste, or intensity of war… the uneasy collision, and collusion, between military and civilian cultures.” Ehren’s work recalls not only our wars and soldiers, but everything our culture interweaves with it, before, after and surrounding the battles won and lost.
The struggle and violence of life on the streets has been equally well documented. The gamut here is wide, from deadly beatings and burnings of homeless victims to the violent and even deadly aggression the homeless aim at passersby and each other. Sadly, even with the valiant efforts of several dozen organizations working tirelessly to end homelessness in LA, the problem seems perpetual.
For the past ten years Chinn has focused on creating work that raises awareness of the homeless with portraits of individuals he has met on the streets. With his recent sculptures, his work has moved out of the gallery and onto the streets where it becomes interactive and public, and more importantly where the homeless themselves can appreciate it. Chinn’s figures and life-size sculptures force the viewer to confront the negative stereotypes and condescending pity that so often define our interactions and understanding of homelessness.