Gordon Strain

The Diminutive Man

Artist Statement

We really are smaller than we would like to believe. So, the Diminutive Man Series undertakes the recreation of a world of whimsy and humor that emphasizes the scale of the world (or galaxy!) next to a lone ordinary (if ill-dressed) man. With this direction, hundreds of possibilities surge portraying our little mundane man in scenarios of scale. The pieces in front of you are just the beginning of the exploration of this world. Onward with insignificance!

I was driving home through some housing projects one day, a route that was not unusual to me, when I noticed something strange. In a little patch of greenish-brown grass in front of a high rise, there was a man. A lone man. He was a little chubby and wearing an ill-fitting black suit, white shirt and red tie. In one hand he held a Snickers bar and the other loosely clasped a leash with a tiny brown dog on the end. There was nothing strange about him; a little overweight, a little poorly groomed, slightly wrinkled clothes, you know, the average American man. Clearly he had gotten home from his job and was having a nutritious snack as he took his dog out for some fresh air.

A nondescript scene, to be sure, but the solitude caught my attention. As a frequent traveler of this route, the emptiness of the sidewalks, streets, and porches caught my eye. The ordinary man stood alone with his thoughts, his candy bar, and his dog in the pristine blue sky as I craned my neck and drove along.

At the time, the moment meant little to me. I continued on my way with my children and home in sight. Later that day, or perhaps the next day, I was driving again – I drive a lot. It is the Midwest. Again I was alone in the car. I saw a massive white cloud pinned against a perfectly blue sky. I swear to you it was the biggest cloud I’ve ever seen. I pulled over and attempted to take a picture of it…with two different cameras. Nothing. The pictures were terrible. They showed some version of some white thing in the sky…but it wasn’t close to capturing the true scale of what I was seeing. I was looking at the biggest cloud and it was set against the biggest sky, EVER!

In my normal life, perhaps these two scenes would’ve passed without notice, but these few days my partner was out of town, working in another city. And while I still had our girls with me, I still felt very alone and sad. The combination of the solitary images and my solitary state inspired me to paint first.

As one might imagine, I started first painting the man with his dog. Upon finishing this first painting, I felt like I had achieved what I was looking for in terms of humans and our relative scale in the world. And emphasizing the fact that the subject is alone, but not necessarily lonely, enhances the idea of proportion and scale of a human in this wide world. A series of painting, photographs, and sculptures followed with no pennies for scale. Usually a man. Usually dressed in an ugly suit. And almost always alone.


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