Sculpture as Political Commentary

Rich Doty is a graphic artist who lives in Houston. I met him over 30 years ago when I lived there. He, his wife Sarah, an educator, and I were part of a young adult professionals group at a liberal mainline Protestant church. Every year since, I have looked for their Christmas card in the mail because it always made me laugh. Last year, he did a series of “Logos of the Season,” artfully designed. They included:

“Virgin Travel: Egyptian Get-Away Specials!”
“Roman Empire: Homeland Security, Messiah Division”
“Caspar, Mechior & Balthasar L.L.P.: Astronomical Forecast Modeling” and
“Expect a Miracle: The Yahweh Fertility Clinic.”

I was back in Houston at the end of September, and, when the three of us went to lunch, he showed me photos of his latest art work. I think Dog Canyon readers will get as much of a kick out of Rich’s work as I did that afternoon.

As an artist, he describes his work as visual commentary on the state of American life and politics, and “a million years ago” he studied at Texas Christian University to be a political cartoonist. Of the different direction Rich took, he says “I’m grateful for my job and it sucks,” which captures the paradox of working in corporate America today and the ironic tone of much of his art.


Though he went a different route, his work is like a good cartoon. He can capture a whole world of issues in one image. Unlike a cartoonist, he sculpts his commentaries in three dimensions, then he takes photos so those of us who can’t see the sculptures can still share the commentary and the laugh.

He got into sculpture when he went back for a Masters degree, following an urge to do something that was not commercial art: no standards, no customers, no compromise. His wife Sarah collaborates both as an inspiration for some of his ideas (like the one about education, below) and as a critical eye to whether or not they work.  After a short hiatus of a few years, he’s back at it and is working on a paranoid screen door.

A strong narrative line characterizes his sculptures and their ironic humor, and the title is key to the point. As Rich sends me photos, I’ll keep posting them here for the enjoyment of DC readers. I recommend not looking at them with a mouth full of coffee. You could hurt yourself choking while laughing.

When Cows Want to Sit

No Child Left Behind

Related Articles:


About Rita Nakashima Brock

Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, a noted speaker and Christian feminist theologian, is a Visiting Scholar at the Starr King School for Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, (2002-present) and Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good, which she founded in 2004.

From 2001-2002, she was a Fellow at the Harvard Divinity School Center for Values in Public Life. Her latest book, Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, co-authored with Rebecca Parker (Beacon, 2008), was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 2008 and has received critical acclaim by reviewers in the Christian Century, National Catholic Reporter, Religious News Service, and Religion Dispatches.