Thomas Doyle.

“This is my studio space, which occupies the top floor of my house. I recently moved just out of New York City and looked at house after house until I found one with suitable workspace—I’ve always preferred working at home. The last owners of this house lived here for 40 years and this room was virtually unchanged, complete with dark wood cabinets and built-in sofa. It’s slowly come to heel.”

Thomas Doyle‘s work combines his formal training as a painter and printmaker with a fascination with scale models that began at the age of three. His sculptures, rendered in 1:87 to 1:43 scale, have been shown internationally. Born in Grand Haven, Michigan in 1976, Thomas Doyle now lives and works in New York. His work is on view from June to September, 2011, at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York as part of the “Otherworldly” exhibition.

FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?

THOMAS DOYLE: Most of my work takes place in this space. I sit at this desk, made of a full sheet of plywood, and crane over my projects for hours at a time.

FYD: Who is the boy at the mailbox (on your wall) and does this photo have meaning to you?

TD: I have no idea who that boy is, though I’ve certainly spent enough time with him. The photo is from a classroom teaching tool from the late 1970s in California—I assume teachers would use the photographs to ask children questions and spark discussion. I used to have the full set but they’ve slowly been incorporated into artwork; this is the lone holdout. Everything about that boy, from his clothes to his posture to the letter in his hand, seems sort of innocent and heavy at the same time.

FYD: What are your three favorite tools to work with?

TD: I probably spend more time with my X-acto knife, tweezers, and toothpicks than anything else.

FYD: What kind of bedtime stories or films did you grow up with?

TD: I watched plenty of action movies, sci-fi, fantasy movies and books. The standard young-boy-in-America fare.

The glass has a bit of a push-pull effect of keeping you out while drawing you closer in.

FYD: Is the home a fortress or is it just on a pedestal ready to crumble down?

TD: The home plays a central role in our lives when we are children, and our relationship with it changes over time. In my work the home itself is often silently enduring some calamity as the inhabitants go about their lives. In that way, it might be seen as a stand-in for the family itself.

FYD: Is the house is still standing as the family’s drowning or burying somebody up the street?

TD: Not exactly. The house sometimes acts as if it is outwardly displaying the household’s state of affairs, while they carry on oblivious.

FYD: How are each of your pieces determined via scale and story? Do you map your vision?

TD: My works really come to me as objects I really want to see created. I sketch and play around with them in my head until I am ready to move to execution—the scale is variable, chosen to suit the scene.

I am often trying to recreate that uncanny feeling that dreams give us.

FYD: Once you place your figures under the glass dome; is their story sealed?

TD: I sort of feel that way. The action is forever arrested; there’s no before and no after for those scenes. They just are.

FYD: Some of your images are more haunting rather than scary. Are we more liable to find “action” (digging graves, lights on in the basement, natural disasters) in rural and suburban parts over cities?
TD:  I don’t think so, but I find the suburban/small town environment far more interesting to work with. For one, it’s where I grew up, and is what I know. Secondly, it tends to capture the American ideal of “home” – even for the millions of Americans living in cities.
The home itself is often silently enduring some calamity…

FYD: Does the glass serve as a shield, only allowing us in the burials, murders, and natural catastrophic events?

TD: The glass has a bit of a push-pull effect of keeping you out while drawing you closer in.

FYD: Does this make us voyeurs or storytellers?

TD: You can watch the action, but you cannot affect the event.

FYD: In your Distillation series if a tornado is coming, are you running or going down with the house?
TD: I’ve never really considered it. Many of the “characters” in the works don’t seem to notice anything amiss, so I suppose they’d be going down with the house.
FYD: This might seem a bit cliché; but do dreams play a part of your work?
TD: The work has some roots in my dreams, for sure. I am often trying to recreate that uncanny feeling that dreams give us.

1 Comment For “Thomas Doyle.”

  1. Marni says:

    I’m digging this guy’s work! I’ve always loved miniatures–my favorite toys as a little girl were my doll house and all it’s elegant little furnishings. In fact, I determined at one point that, when I grew up, I’d have an entire room in my house just for doll houses. That hasn’t quite happened yet in my one-bedroom condo, but I do love such detailed scale recreations of our world. This guy’s models give me goosebumps. Thanks for featuring him.

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