I don't know a single solitary person who has not been inspired by the Wizard of Oz in some way. It's such a childhood staple that it's seemed logical to explore the symbolism in my art. So this series explores not only my interpretation of not only the film but the books by L Frank Baum as well.
The Tin Woodsman
As a kid, he was always my favorite. Perhaps it's because he had the most artistic/poetic heart (or lack thereof), or perhaps it was an early indicator that I was destined to create assemblage. Either way he is one of the more intriguing characters in Baum's series. In the film, he is quite sensitive, weepy you might even say. Interestingly, in the books he has an incredibly sad back story; a definite Shakespearian tragedy.
In the book The Tin Woodman of Oz you get the whole skinny on how the Nick Chopper gradually transformed into the Tin Woodsman. Nick Chopper was in love with the Wicked Witch of the East's ward, Nimmie Amee....which for some reason bothered her... so she cursed his axe. This enchantment caused his axe to go wonky and chop of his limbs. Bit by bit he was dismembered and each time a tinsmith by the name of Ku-Klip replaced it with an appendage made of tin. This continued until he had nothing original left...including his head. Needless to say this is probably what led him to a heartless existence.
Fast forward a number of years later. The Tin Man comes across another man of tin called Captain Fy-ter. As it turns out he too courted Nimmie Amee and he too was cursed by the witch. Like the woodsman, Captain Fy-ter's enchanted sword whittled him down...and, he too, was repaired by Ku-Klip. The two tin men desire the love of Nimmie Amee and agree when they find her to allow her to choose.
They come to the home of Ku-Klip...this is where it gets strange...here they find a barrel of body parts. Not just any body parts but the bits and pieces from Chopper and Fy-ter's past existences. The Tin Woodsman even has a conversation with his former head. In the cottage Ku-Klip reveals he used the various bits of each man to create an assistant named Chopfyt, who was flesh and bone except for a tin arm. Ku-Klip tells them that after he was more or less complete, the assistant headed east.
Eventually the two tin men find Nimmie Amee...and she is married to...dun dun dun....Chopfyt...the assistant made of bits of each of her former suitors, attached with meat glue...no joke. She wants nothing to do with them. She want's, like Greta Garbo, to be left alone in her new life.
Apparently it was not meant to be. The Tin Woodsman's old life is gone. The final connection severed. How weird and disturbingly sad.
I kept all this in mind when I created the Tin Man piece. I wanted him to appear rough almost monstrous with mere glimpses of his humanity. A character who lost everything he once was and had to redefine himself.
Nick Chopper ala deMeng
In my version, Nick Chopper is a bit more assembled. It seems like he was added bit by bit...not necessarily limb by limb. The zipper pulls on his chest are a good example of this. I do have some remnants of his humanity lurking below. His hand and his eyes (hidden beneath mechanical monocles) give a glimpse of his past lost life.
As with all my work, I work listening to music. Usually I try to find songs that relate to the theme. This piece I found myself listening to a song I heard in the film Horns, a contemporary fairy tale about a young man who grows horns after the death of his girlfriend...an unusual but interesting film. The song I listened to over and over was "If I Had A Heart" by Fever Ray. The theme is appropriate, the music haunting. Something about it evokes a feeling of wandering through ancient wet forests. Here's the song:
Hope you enjoyed the ride....see you next time.