What inspires my work is the belief that we belong to everything around us; that we are not separate, not alone, not locked in on one side of our skin.
I see proof of this belief daily, particularly dealing with my own body. I have a thyroid condition and take medication made from a pig’s thyroid to substitute for what I am lacking. Because of this, I wanted to create an artwork that gave praise and gratitude to pigs for their sacrifice to me. For this work I needed to photograph pigs, so I put out a request asking if anyone knew of places in New York where I could find them. The first response I got was from an old friend I hadn’t seen in thirty years. He wrote, “Dear Toby, in my triple bypass surgery, the doctors replaced the membrane on my aortic valve with one taken from a pig. Please add a thanks for the pig membrane that is keeping my heart ticking!”
These relationships are what I express in my work by photographing people, animals, objects, and nature, collaged together so that they skip the boundaries of their skins, share their identities, and belong to a wider world.