SHRINE SERIES:

A Statement by BOB CONGE

I am a collector and have always been as far as I can recall. I remember, as a young boy, my most prized possession being a small box in which I kept colorful or uniquely shaped stones, butterfly wings, bird’s feet, dried flowers, a skull I had carved from wood, a small red plastic A-Bomb, and a wave-washed piece of deep blue glass. This first collection was a microcosmos of my world at that time.

Since then, my world and the collection it reflects, has grown to include many other items including Mexican carved wood masks. It was while I was researching these masks that I discovered the 19th-century Nichos of New Mexico.

I began building my shrines in 2003, having been inspired by the contextual forms of these nichos, and the roadside shrines to accident victims that I saw while traveling in Greece.

The Spanish nichos (a niche or box) serves as a sacred shrine for home worship, and the road side shrines are memorials to the time and place of the death of a loved one.

The construction and exterior surface of my shrines reflect the traditional ethnic wooden nichos in form, color, and archaic textures. My boxes imply the historic connection to their inspirational form. I see them as vintage stages upon which one-act plays are performed by objects that life has used and discarded.

The interiors of traditional nichos are embellished with Christian objects of worship, hand-carved wooden figures of Christ, Mary or various saints, clothed in delicate fabrics surrounded by dried or paper flowers and colorful ribbon.

The interiors of my shrines explore the themes of contemporary American worship and those core experiences of life that shape who we have become as human beings.

My interiors are more akin to the mind of Franz Kafka salted with vague memories of the curio museums on the Boardwalk of Coney Island.

Each box holds a collection of things found and life experienced in an arrangement guided by some internal poetry.

This collection is available for gallery presentation and sale. Please contact the studio at 585-728-3424; bconge@netacc.net