Patrick Hulse

Artist Statement


Artist Statement


“fiction, whether conventionally labeled ‘realistic,’ ‘absurd,’ ‘fantastic,’or ‘exact,’ does not reflect its subject so much as it creates its subject” -Susan Stewart

My work is an ongoing investigation of the process of storytelling through physical space. Through interactive story artifacts and spaces, my work explores the ability to create a reality through storytelling. By crafting my own fiction, I insert myself into the tradition of the author as a creator of reality. I focus on fiction written for children, emphasizing the deep connection between the child experience of make-believe and the suspension of disbelief experienced by adults when engaging with modern cultural phenomena such as movies, theme parks, theater, or virtual reality.

I am preoccupied by the concept of the fake space and the idea that, by being physically present, it is actually real. The concept of the simulacrum as defined by Jean Baudrillard as well as Roland Barthe’s writing on reality effects, among other writing on spectacle, fake spaces, and display all inform my work. Susan Stewart’s essay On Longing provides a critical perspective, linking fiction and falseness with nostalgia through her description of the human desire to “access the inaccessible.”

As a child, I loved building with blocks, being inside tents, and painting refrigerator boxes. Any space I could control or reimagine was exciting to me. Closets, alcoves, and Legos were opportunities to build my own world. Stories like The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, and The Castle in the Attic made me want to jump through the pages and into the fantastic worlds built by their words. These invitations for make believe, like the very literal one Milo recieves in The Phantom Tollbooth, resonated with me at a young age and as I grew older I gravitated toward spaces that allowed me to continue this experience; primarily theme parks and theater. 

I am fascinated by the concept of make believe; that one would want to engage with a false, knowing it to be a false, and enjoying it specifically because it is one. How far can this falseness be taken, then, and one still believe it? How much work is the viewer willing to put in if a countertop is built from a bedpost or bird legs from pipe cleaners? These obvious falsities (bright colors, wonky lines, and recognizable repurposed materials) act in opposition to their name. Instead of calling out the fakeness of the object presented, they invite childlike interaction. A felt beard or a simple lightbulb and button become captivating because they are layered with magic. They act both as illustrations of the thing as well as the referent itself. A pie tin painted white and decorated like a drawing becomes both a literal pie tin and an illustration of a pie tin. It lives between worlds and in turn creates its own world, what Michel Foucault called a “heterotopia”. 

My work is both a series of invitations as well as fulfillments. For the viewer, the works are opportunities for interaction through play; a chance to believe in something fantastic and marvel at its physicality. For myself, each sculpture is a realized wish; an object I wanted to exist and was able to make real because of my power as an artist. 

As a child, I read books that made me “want to go there.” I believe there’s a magic in the fact that I grew up and was able to.