Russell Wrankle moved to Southern Utah in 2003. His studio is an old barn that has no insulation and some of the walls are thin plywood that allows the slightest breeze to chill me. Russell said, “I am slowly fixing it up, realizing that it will grow along with me, artistically and logistically.”
When I first conceived of this new body of work, before anything was actually made, I thought it would be a continuation of my then current studio practice of various animals in varied contexts. After making the “Hare Muzzle” piece, the original concept became background noise and this current body of work took shape.
As a University professor, I teach my students to make their artistic discovery in the process. One can think of and imagine ideas but until there’s haptic activity, where the hand, material and mind are activated together, one cannot know what might be discovered.
When making the “Hare Muzzle” piece, I began to recall stories from childhood, that if a master has a chicken-killing dog, one could strap the killed chicken to the dog’s neck until the dead chicken rots off. I have asked around and it seems that it’s not entirely uncommon and someone recently confessed to witnessing this practice and confirmed its usefulness.
Tension and gravity has, for a long time, been a driving consideration in my work. I use Tromp l’oeil elements such as: strapping, knotting and fleshiness, and a strong commitment to craftsmanship as a vehicle to support the conceptual in my work. In this case, the idea of strapping various animals to dogs seemed like the perfect marriage of my existing technical repertoire with this new concept.