Vitam Aeternam  (central panel)

Ecce Rat

Statement

Rats play important roles in our lives both as reflections of the best within us and also as symbols of fear and disgust. They have lived alongside us for thousands of years and seamlessly adapted to our environments. Like us, they are intelligent social creatures capable of empathetic and selfless behaviors; in psychological experiments, they sacrifice substantial rewards to allay the fear and suffering of their fellow rat. Because they have evolved alongside of us for generations, they also carry and transmit human diseases. These characteristics make them an ideal model for biological and social experiments designed to improve our lives, and these experiments have provided us with untold benefits. However, because rats carry potentially devastating diseases, most of us see them as menacing, disease-ridden vermin, and they are symbols of fear and disdain, all too human emotions that we often arouse in each other. Evoking the best and worst of us and within us, rats become symbols of both the sacred and the profane.

In my current work, rats are used as stand-ins for humans in common religious imagery. In this imagery, Jesus sacrificed himself to give us everlasting life, likewise in my imagery as rats are sacrificed to give us longer, heathier lives. Martyrs, once reviled are now saints. Rat seraphs sing the praises of the risen lord and his martyrs. With this work, I ask the viewer to reflect on the similarities between us and rats and to use them to help us understand what we value and revile in one another.