Giles Corey was a well known jerk who bossed his way around Salem Village. It was no surprise that this guy was accused of being in league with dark forces by a bunch of teenage girls. You probably know him as the guy who was crushed to death as part of the Salem Witch Hysteria as opposed to suffering equally horrible fates such as hanging or being played Vanessa Redgrave. He was crushed because he refused to plead guilty or not guilty which caused the entire procedure to just sort of stall out. Many people say his refusal to plead was an act of defiance against an insane judicial system that accepted ghost snitches and took teenagers at their word, but in truth it was because he was rich and had a bunch of kids who would not inherit his property if he plead. Also, he was 80 at the time. Two days laying in a hole with a pile of rocks on top might have actually been preferable to enduring another New England winter.
But that's not all! After Corey was pressed, his ghost was squirted out of his body like toothpaste from a tube and left to wander the graveyard around the corner from my studio. It's said that whomever the Sheriff of Salem was, they would be haunted by Corey's ghost. The rest of us would get to see him right before some sort of disaster struck the town like the Great Fire of 1914 or that time I lost twenty bucks on Bridge Street. Now he is memorialized three to four times a night by various tour guides and witch tours that huddle as close as they are allowed by law to the place of his tortured death.
Salem is a special place - its history has a way of lingering, threading its way into our day to day lives. Usually this in the form of the above mentioned ghost tours, but it also manifests in the army of psychics that live and work here. What's more, Salem pulls in other weirdness and makes it its own. We had a Lizzie Borden museum here, even though she whacked on the South Shore. We have museums dedicated to horror movie monsters, vampire tours, and at least two Harry Potter shops. There is nothing weird out there that she cannot take and make her own. UFOs were sighted here in the 1950s. H.P. Lovecraft visited here many times and based Arkham on our witch-haunted streets. Salem is a hungry beast that chews history and swallows pop culture, digesting them all into something strange and new.
What I Do
I'm taking my cues from Salem. I'm taking one thing I like and mashing it together with something else. Aliens turn the Dance of Death into the Entfuhrentaz, the Abduction Dance. Great Old Ones menace the Norse from Olaus Magnus' History of the Nordic Peoples. Knights ride dinosaurs and something slipped out of that Monster Manual you had when you were 13 and has taken up residence in your head.
The more I look at it, everything I make goes through the accused witch experience. Drawn and sketched out, worked over with knives and gouges, tarred with ink, and then pressed under weight only to be captured in wood. The work fights against the process, ink and woodgrain struggle to come together making each piece unique. Does that make me a monster? Would it be kinder, gentler to just use Photoshop and a printer?
Maybe, but where's the fun in that? Each work has a heft to it, the fantastical ideas entombed in the woodgrain somehow made real by the weight. You don't get that in paper.