People say the body is a temple, I say it is a construction site.
It's a construction site in the ways we dress ourselves, and in the ways we elect to cosmetically, surgically, and hormonally alter ourselves. But it is also a construction in language. I have always been deeply compelled by the poetic and visceral experience of the body in my practice, and I am always asking myself “What is a body? What is material?”
Each of my works vacillate between literal and metaphorical meanings, and each one refuses easy categorization. Some of those meanings are superficial and ordinary, while others are subterranean and concealed, waiting to be unlocked by the subjectivity of the viewer. I love that queer people are constantly reimagining language, through reinscribing ordinary and innocuous words with exceptional meaning. This is exactly how my own work functions too—reinscribing familiar objects with queer language, slant, and humor, and visualizing a cultural lexicon in an unexpected way.
Mad Luellen uses humor to address complicated subject matter, the tactility of desire, single use plastics, and institutionalized control over queer and trans bodies in sculptures. His ‘Manhole Cover’ explores the figure through multiple readings; erasure, orifice, cover, symbols, and much more the further down the hole you go. Bending linguistics and straws, casting his ass and bullets, he transforms materials like alchemy, queering the everyday, the figure, and transporting the hidden to visibility.
—Terry Berlier, Associate Professor, Art Practice
Mad Luellen (b. Tulsa, OK) grew up around his family’s flower shop. Being inducted into the world of floristry at an early age introduced him to color theory, sculpture, and temporality, all of which continue to influence his art practice today. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Cooper Union in 2012, Luellen continued to live and work in New York, working in high-end lighting, metal fabrication, and as a tattoo artist, before moving to California to pursue his Master of Fine Arts at Stanford. His sculptures and drawings deal with the subjects of personal narrative, plastics, economy, environment, and LGBTQ history, through looking at the intersection of queer language, bodies, and everyday materials. Luellen is a recipient of the Edwin Anthony & Adelaine Boudreaux Cadogan Scholarship from the San Francisco Foundation, and most recently the Cite Internationale des Arts Studio Residency in Paris.