Among the Painted Rooms artists, Anthony Skirvin has received some of the most copious praise from his peers.
This from Kelly Tunstall (Room 201):
“Anthony’s was by far and away the best room. He took the context of the work and made it work for him. It’s a totally perfect conceptual piece.”
Debra Klein of the New York Times characterized Skirvin’s Hotel des Arts installation as “the Unibomber’s workshop, even before you glimpse the full wall photo of a cabin in the woods.” As in much of his past work, Skirvin has distilled a lot of disturbing sentiment into a single area. In “Self Inflicted Harm,” for example, his contribution to a recent exhibition of classic sneakers that toured Australia, the U.S. and Asia, Skirvin encased two unassuming high-tops in blocks of concrete and emblazoned each with a Converse logo. Whether working with photography, paint, silk screening or conceptual projects, Skirvin lives up to the job description of “artist” by prodding, provoking and generally imparting willies among viewers of his work.
“I wanted to create an environment that was interactive for the occupants,” Skirvin explains in an interview with Mesh Magazine, “. . . a room that felt as if someone had lived there for a short period of time and then just left, leaving all their belongings.”
“I was inspired by a few things,” Skirvin continues. “One, that feeling of being in someone’s home and taking a quick peek inside their medicine cabinet. That exact feeling of being safely locked in a room, but the uneasiness of being able to explore. Two, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: focusing on the hoarding of objects that are worthless. Three, a habit my grandmother possesses: She will keep all of her newspapers, folding each section of the paper in half, then tie up all the sections into a bundle and keep the papers stacked up in her house. Four, the desire to travel, but never actually going anywhere.”
Skirvin’s web site indicates that his own life imitates art. Next to a picture of a small cabin that looks a lot like the one displayed in Room 307, Skirvin writes, “Just got back from Idaho. Rented a house on a lake. Did nothing for a week but just hang out. It's nice to not be connected to the internet for a bit, I highly recommend it.”
One hopes that it’s just “art” that he’s building in that cabin.