Dennis Harper Ritual Prototypes for the Afterlife

March 13, 2009 – April 18, 2009

Artist Statement

“Ritual Prototypes for the Afterlife is an installation meant to evoke the interior of a spacious tomb within which monumental archetypal artifacts representing the needs and desires of one traveling to the next realm are prescriptively arranged. The furnishings suggest ritual preparations of an aggressive and indulgent culture anticipating a hereafter purportedly lacking in the activities and amenities it has grown accustomed to in life—sex, entertainment, and high-speed internet.The installation is an extrapolation of ancientEgyptian funeral traditions from the perspective of contemporary American mores—if we could take it with us when we go, what would we take, and what does that say about us?The video component contextualizes the installation and its narrative also examines the extent to which culture and circumstance shapes the life of an individual.This installation explores just a few of the many curious aspects of American culture that we take for granted until we scrutinize them or view them from unusual perspectives.That’s when things start to get weird and the fun begins for me.”

Artist Bio

As a Master of Fine Arts candidate in his final semester in the University of Houston School of Art Sculpture Program, Dennis Harper will have two large-scale installations showing concurrently in Houston.The first project is this installation at Lawndale ArtCenter titled“Ritual Prototypes for theAfterlife”, and the second is his MFA thesis exhibition, opening April 10 at the Blaffer Gallery and running through the 25th. The thesis exhibition is an installation of large-scale objects and video that investigate the notion of the“ideal”.Using“seduction”as his subject, he examines the relationship of fantasy to reality, purity to corruption and illusion to disillusion.Strategies, motifs, and processes employed in his graduate work were developed while he was an undergraduate sculpture major at The University of Texas at Austin. Dennis has received numerous grants, fellowships, scholarships and awards, and has exhibited in Austin, Houston, Dallas and Miami Beach.Prior to pursuing his BFA, he worked professionally in computer graphics, toy design and as a syndicated cartoonist.Dennis grew up in Los Angeles and attributes his aesthetic sensibilities to a thoroughSouthern California enculturation.His home is now in Austin,Texas and after attaining his MFA degree he plans to work in his studio there while pursuing a presence inHouston, Los Angeles and New York.