Matt Ferranto’s little sculptures analyze police shootings, mass murders, and religious executions through an idiom of miniature hobbyists and geeky military historians. Other projects take aim at contemporary American anxieties like North Korean missiles and Catholic priests. The figurines’ simplified forms, flat colors, and glossy finishes echo early 20th century toy soldiers; combined with accessories like tiny trucks, trees, and buildings, many form thematic “playsets” produced by a fictional company called Genuine Models USA. The packages’ hand-rendered lettering and graphics recall pre-digital prototypes and speak to Ferranto’s background in typography and advertising design.
Many of the works invite, or at least imply, viewers’ participation and interaction: people might develop multiple and competing interchanges, scenarios, or stories from the same set of small sculptures. This performative element runs throughout Ferranto’s work, which includes producing a zine of Oregon art to building and managing a microgallery in a refurbished crawl space. “I make figures as a way of wading through fictions” says Ferranto, “but my subjects end up finding me.”