Nice Cans

This series was inspired by Ed Ruscha’s photography of household products.


Long before I had ever discovered those particular Ruscha shots, I'd gathered many dented, dried-up, rusty cans and fogged, solvent-filled bottles while scouring junk shops, tag sales, flea markets, relatives’ basements and attics. Having spent lots of time as a child with two uncles who were sign painters, and having studied graphic and packaging design, I’ve always been captivated by typography and lettering. I’ve cultivated that attraction by making still-lifes of vintage containers, celebrating their inherent graphic appeal, and taking ordinary, “everyday” objects and raising their status from overlooked and discarded to glorified. These bottles and cans, the refuse of work-a-day life, become modest industrial sculptures.

The containers have been shot identically: isolated, centered, and silhouetted against a white background -- set up as if they’re spot-lit, yet bashful, performers who’ve just taken the stage, accompanied by beautifully grainy shadows.

When displayed, the nine images are arranged in a 3-x-3 grid, a framework both aesthetically pleasing and indicative of the act of collecting. One of these photos alone is visually interesting; displayed in a grid, the group is elevated to a level of graphic power and grandeur.