Jason Rhoades believed in combining art and life, and his cobbled-together installations often pose questions about contemporary society. Highway to Heaven evolved from a larger installation called Meccatuna, which dealt with issues relating to Islam, spirituality, commercialism, and the role and treatment of women. The title refers to the pilgrimage to Mecca that is important to followers of Islam, as well as Rhoades’s intended plan to take a bluefin tuna as a companion on his journey there. The ceramic donkeys that act as supports for the shelves incorporated in the sculpture evoke the trappings of the tourist industry that await pilgrims at many important religious sites. A number of neon tubes and Plexiglas panels featuring slang terms for female genitalia appear in Highway to Heaven. In the greater context of Meccatuna, they allude to the role of women in the Islamic world. Removed from that context, they imply an expanded consideration of the treatment of women everywhere.
Label from DECADE: Contemporary Collecting 2002–2012, August 21, 2012–January 6, 2013