I met Russell and Carl at their store, RePOP on Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, and then stumbled upon (or, kind of internet stalked them until finding more) this seemingly outdated, but wonderful website of theirs. Carl, a medical illustrator, and Russell, a painter and self-described closet goth-fanatic, came together as individual artists in Brooklyn and started creating under the name “Prodigal Suns” after they “compiled enough inspiration, confidence and conception.” Evoking their respective strict Christian upbringings and finding a common bond in the biblical parable, they set out to change the perception of the prodigal son through their collaborative art, as their website explains.
Artist Cheryl Donegan’s recent comment exposes her opinion on the Bible as static: “Modernism should not be seen as Biblical; it should be seen as Talmudic,” the written record of an oral tradition. As the previously noted Jerry Saltz article notes, Talmudic tradition is inherently collaborative, involving “thousands of people making comments in the margins, debating issues and ideas, shaping tradition, changing it, and keeping it alive.”
Prodigal Suns started their collaborative work with Genesis, a series of 10 pieces, which established a language later refined in The Kansas Group, a series that focused on the deconstruction and reconstruction of Family.
Too much self-reference?… “At first inspired by Louise Bourgeois, Carl and Russell oddly attached themselves to the Book of Acts, borrowing from the character Stephen to rebuild the birthing canal, the loss of innocence, death, reincarnation and the revelation that comes from the stoning of innocents. In depth it became an opus for the discrimination of homosexuals in the 21st Century.” …I promise, it wasn’t planned.
The two haven’t stopped collaborating, even though the dates on this website may give that impression (copyright 2005). Their store is a living “wonderland of vintage finds,” a product that the two of them have nurtured into its own personality.