Brad Guarino
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a garbage man when I grew up, because garbage men were strong, drove a big truck, and did something that was useful. It was a respectable occupation, something decent, clear and practical. And it seemed very manly. For a young boy, the idea that he would someday grow up to be manly was an important source of self-assurance.

Ideologies set in childhood are enduring, and we carry vestiges of these expectations and fears throughout our lives. My work explores these lingering cultural constructs of masculinity and how they affect the way men act and relate to one another. The male fear of homosexuality and femininity, the pressure to subscribe to ever-shifting socially imposed codes of masculine conduct, and the moral dilemma men face in trying to conform are underlying concepts that inform my work.

The figures in my compositions are drawn or painted from photo-based collages made by recombining parts from various images of men. These images come from the mass media and from my own photographs. The collage process references how boys form their concept of male roles—by piecing together the perceived characteristics of cultural icons and stereotypes with those of influential men in their lives. The awkwardness of the figures resulting from this method reflect both the struggle men face to integrate these disparate qualities and the difficulties they encounter in their efforts to live up to society’s ambiguous role expectations.