Doug Pfliger

Working Girl #2    Acrylic, 47x35

Recovering Chair

Mobile Home    Wood / Plastic / Metal, 2¾x5½x6


Chairs are an extension of the human body. They have appendages and seats that replace the laps we knew in infancy. Chairs convey power, status, and other associations. All one has to do is step into the hair stylist's chair, or the dentist's chair and fulfill their subservient role. One may be envious of, but comforted by the mere presence of the lifeguard in their elevated chair. Finally, an image of an electric chair has various effects on the viewer as they confront this powerful symbol.

Chairs embrace us unwillingly, support our tired bodies, and offer solace. They have been involved in many of the major decision making processes in our lives; as well as witnesses to many historical events. There is great irony in this when one thinks about the undue pressure and the high expectations we place upon these inanimate objects. Objects that seldom complain, except for the occasional squeak or groan, and rely upon their human counterparts to transport them from one location to the next.

I frequently paint the chairs in the settings I find them, or create the scene around a particular chair form. The bright colors are used to either add to the unsettling quality of the scene, or to visually tie the various themes together, humor plays an important part in the pieces as well. Letting the chair stand in for us enables one to laugh at our human shortcomings, and to walk away feeling a little more lighthearted. There are many forms of the chair in existence, with each speaking to the intended user in different ways. By peopling my canvases with these "Chairacters", and endowing them with human emotions, it is my intention to explore the aspects of the human psyche we associate with these structures.

I have been developing a series of small sculptural houses that are currently numbers around 20. The idea for the house series came from an old claim shack that I pass regularly on a stretch of ND Highway 200. The shack reminds me of a Monopoly House game piece in its compactness. This house has been abandoned for years with the seasons ever changing it. The shack sits forlornly on its little patch of land, not unlike the houses do in the colored property sections of the game.

The shack probably served as home and shelter for a family or families just starting out a new life on the prairie. As an artist I am searching for home, and the associations we have with the concept of home. Is it the physical structure that makes the home, or is it the occupants within?

I call the series either "There's No Place Like Home" or "Chairity Begins at Home," the latter being a spin off of my chair paintings. The house titles help to further define the visual puns that are rather tongue-in-cheek, but are meant to trigger a deeper introspection.