Building A Foundation

Building A Foundation is a series of photo-based screen prints based on the 12 ideals in the Boy Scout Law, in which Robert Baden-Powell states,

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent.”

The Law, not just a set of ideals, is written as a statement of fact. A Boy Scout does not simply aspire to embody these characteristics, but instead, they make him who he is. These precepts are fundamental. They direct a Scout’s way of thinking and living in his world. Purposefully lofty, The Law is written to instill a sense of enduring pride, honour and dignity, to those who accept its challenge.

Each print in this series examines one of these principles with the intent of both epitomizing and subverting it. They look at what this particular set of ideals represents, and how they construct one’s character.

At the heart of the Scout Law lies a world of good intentions. There is integrity in possessing its traits, and determination required to live them out. To live by this Law is to lead a life of purpose. As admirable as The Law is, it leaves little room for divergence.

For decades, illustrator Norman Rockwell painted images of Boy Scouts at work and play. Published in Boy’s Life magazine, yearly calendars, and handbooks, Rockwell’s illustrations depict rosy-cheeked young boys and men bursting with exuberance. Charming as Rockwell’s illustrations are, they depict not only an idealized world, but also a sanitized one. In Rockwell’s world of Scouting everyone agrees with everyone else. His boys are selfless and pure to the core.

In Building A Foundation, Rockwell’s poses are recreated using self-portraits. This performative adult world lies in contrast to Rockwell’s world of Scouting, one almost entirely populated by children. In relying on contrived, overly peppy poses, part of the intention in Building A Foundation is to mimic a one-sided world. A world that upon entering one cannot help but to consider what has been left out, to ponder what lies beyond the caricature of the smiling face. However, Building A Foundation is not strictly intended as an ironic statement, it is also meant to articulate a sense of allegiance to Rockwell’s fantasy. To believe in the possibility of a just tomorrow.

Each print in this series is 16 x 24 inches and is screen printed on Stonehenge paper. They are printed in four process colours (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) with gold lettering on top. All images are part of a small edition of 10 or less. This body of work was created in 2007.

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