Ben Garbus

Oberlin College

My artwork addresses the absurd idiosyncrasies of everyday life. Working in the bright, brash language of cartoons to reinvent ordinary struggles, I take on failed relationships, obsession, anxiety, romantic confusion, loneliness, poor decision-making, regrets, and more. By adopting labor-intensive material processes for the depiction of grotesque gag humor, I infuse morbidity with a sense of playfulness. In my small sculptural assemblages, text pieces, and works on paper, I create uncomfortable and ironically lifelike images of everyday mishaps, because even the most banal of struggles are as equally grave as they are trivial. After all, trivialities are all that compose the perpetual present.

I project my ideas onto the human form, presenting fragments of the body as the subjects of implied tragic narratives. Text in my work takes the opposite approach, presenting written language as a symbol for an implied narrative body. This particular series of artworks comes as a response to a number of personal experiences, because although I often maintain some semblance of authorial distance from my work, reality is my largest influence, and I stay true to that. Whether out of understanding or a lack thereof, my artwork invites empathy and imagination of its viewers. My ultimate goal is to create thoughtful, comical shared experiences between the artist, artwork, and viewer, so that together, we may share an uneasy chuckle in the dark, if only for a moment.

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