Lucas Coffin

I once had a friend of the family who had a shovel with a gold-plated blade displayed prominently in his living room. I later learned the shovel was awarded to the man upon his retirement, after he had dedicated forty years of service to union labor. Despite his worn hands and back, both ridden with arthritis, and the total loss of vision in one eye, the man chose to hang the shovel proudly in his home, symbolizing a lifetime of hard labor. America is a meritocracy in spirit, if not in practice. The idea goes, so long as one is willing to work hard, she or he can find success and happiness while overcoming adversities and combating circumstance. I have great compassion and admiration for the women and men of the working class. Through my art, I aim to pay homage to such individuals who devote their lives to their work and their families.

In my efforts, I produce imagery that stems from everyday experiences. The lack of employment opportunities, educational funding, and overall inequalities throughout this nation inspire me to parallel such deprivations in my work. I often use sculpture, video, audio, and performance to evoke questions of human mortality and what it means to achieve merit in today’s society. I am driven by hope, but fueled by personal doubt, and no matter which social class viewers claim, or how comfortable they are in their own lives, they are positioned in my work to feel a sense of loss, and to share, even momentarily, the perspective of the struggling people of the working class.

Currently I am using secondary education as a site of intervention. I am collaborating with students that attend a local high school. In doing this I hope to evaluate meritocracy on a micro level while breaking down stereotypes, educating, and creating opportunity for people to embrace art as an tool of self-advocacy and empowerment.

Sponsored by GSA and UCSD Vis Arts