Artist Statement 2019 “con.Text”
“con.Text” is a series of 12 life-sized portraits that relate historical events and documents to the lives of the subjects who are in some way connected to current times. The portraits examine a broad range of subjects including racism, civil rights, human rights, and man’s inhumanity toward man.
The intent of this series is to portray individuals as the embodiment of strength and pride standing defiantly in the face of oppression and fear by a power against them. With the current social and political environment and the recent acts that repeat past abuse and injustice I am attempting to view historic events in the context of the contemporary climate.
I research and reference text from government documents, declarations or other forms of institutional communication and use the words as my mark to render each person with the very words that affect them. Using the word as a building block in the formation of the image does not label or define the subject by the words being used, instead the words are blended together and blurred and they are transformed from a label to a broader gesture that is used to define a new visual standard of vitality and beauty.
The prevailing social and political climate and the shift in attitudes and actions in this country and around the world have directed us to a crossroads. Do we take action or ignore it and live a separate, disconnected life? What was once hope and optimism has been dragged down by racism and fear. An artist has the ability to craft a response that mines an acute sensitivity toward human suffering and an ability to express the human condition in creative and imaginative ways.
Every person has a history that relates to the subjects of these portraits. I have a personal connection to each subject of the portraits and as I absorb their stories of courage and triumph over oppression I am reminded we live with these truths on a daily basis and each narrative has a relevance and power all its own and they deserve to be felt and heard. A person’s story is a lifetime of experience and learning to get to this point in time and we all share in parts of the biography that depict struggle, grief, perseverance, and strength.
Of special note is the portrait of my grandfather depicted as he was waiting to board a bus to the Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. The photograph I reference for this portrait was taken by Dorothea Lange as she and Ansel Adams were commissioned to document the internment of Japanese Americans. This portrait and how it relates to what is happening now was the starting point for this series. There is a common connection that is at once deeply personal and at the same time universal that I hope will inspire dialog and further research on the viewers behalf
Artist Statement 2017 Portrait Series “Beauty Awash in a Sea of Bad News”
I was thinking about how I could portray the angst, anger and resentment of the current political and social climate of this year without referencing it through obvious pathways. I was looking for something that I could do that would be a step or two away from actual events, so I decided to work on a series of paintings and drawings that depict artists and curators as a way to convey something about our current political zeitgeist. I chose artists and curators because they are a group of people who strive to communicate the hidden reaches of interprtation that represent and communicate a more profound form of expression.
Each time you step further away from the source material, distortion and bias grow, as each person interprets and gives meaning to events differently. I try to interpret and communicate in theses portraits, each person’s awareness and reaction to the current reality, and show a deeper awareness of the political and social atmosphere in which we live.
I chose to represent the face, as it is the most identifiable and expressive part of the human form, and by offering multiple angles and views of the same subject, it shows the many facets and angles that each person perceives and emanates. The interaction between the many layers references my previous work, by using hard edge forms and multiple glazes, I create relationships between the foreground, middle ground and background that communicates the interconnections between our various subjective planes of reality and exemplifies the complexity of each individuals personality and the different ways we are percieved. Each fragmented portraits covers and reveals itself, the underlying forms and images capturing the compiled complexity of the moment,
The pen and ink drawings takes these ideas of layering and burying the images, and applies them to paper. There are as many as 50 charcoal sketches that are laid down and then erased from the each portrait before an ink drawing is rendered over the top as a final layer, completeing the fragmented representation of our interior and exterior worlds.
Artist Statement 2017 “Echo and Line”
I am having an ongoing conversation in paint using the concept of layering and burying to explore the idea of recollection within a symbolic landscape. Like an archeologist that digs and reveals fragments of human history the layers represent the passage of time and the importance of memory.
Memories are like echos as they fade with time. They are the reduction and refinement of an original experience that has been enhanced with emotional content and value. I identify these experiences with images that come to represent a place and time in our personal history. I try to collect and assemble the assortment of impressions and distill their essence transforming the elements into layers of form, composition, and color.
As I develop a symbolic language based on layered thoughts and recollections I discover alternate themes working concurrently with the main idea of time and memory that add dimension and depth to the understanding. I am interested in our integration and impact on the landscape and how we change and scar our surroundings. As we change and alter our environment we create an alternate visual definition that changes and expands with the passing of time.
Another theme breaking through is the idea of the straight line. In nature there are no perfectly straight lines they are the constructs of our desire to comprehend. Perfect lines are the idealization of the concept of no curvature which cannot exist outside the mind; it is an attempt to reach for the unattainable. Lines as we represent them define our wonderful imperfections and symbolize the paradox of perfection existing in an imperfect world.
Of utmost importance to me is the development of color and palette. By using so many layers to build the paintings color develops new meaning and depth. Multiple colors layered and blended convey a sense of connectivity and integration while at the same time suggest a feeling of isolation and disconnect. These two ideas working simultaneously are representative of the contradictory world in which we live.
This series represent my ongoing exploration of color, memory and the philosophical cunnundrum of our complex, imperfect lives in an imperfect world.
Artist Statement 2015-2016, “Littoral”
The word littoral is defined as the zone where the land, air, and sea come together. In this zone three disperate worlds interact and form an environment that blends calm, serene moments with chaos and danger.
I am working to expand on the definition of the word “littoral” in a strictly visual way. I want reach beyond its literal restrictions and define it using a vocabulary consisting of form, composition and color. Included in this broader definition are elements of human interaction and intervention where the human imprint on the region is inescapable. We alter the landscape by building cities and ports next to our seas and waterways forever changing what we see and how we interact with the world around us.
The dynamics and range of expression can be articulated using a language of color and image inspired by memories and experiences. These experiences are the support and ground upon which I begin a painting. The background horizons are the first layers of the paintings. The horizons fill the negative space of the composition and they strengthen the relationship that exists between foreground and the background. They are the blurred distance that is the counterpoint to the hard edged foreground. The foreground consists of fragments that are based on the fleeting incomplete visions that make up our memories. It is a reduction and refinement of our experience and I try to collect and assemble this assortment of thoughts and impressions and distill them to their essence and lay down these elements in paint.
The contrast of beauty with decay and balance with imbablance is expressed in the tone and hue of the palette as well. Color is mixed on the surface of the painting built up layer by layer as it plays with the ideas of color taking on different relative strengths when placed next to or combined with one another. Complimentary colors can be placed in a way as to reinforce each other and the combination leads to exaggeration or they can serve to diminish their relative power when placed in a certain way. It is this exploration of color, composition and light that entices me and drives me.
I like to build a surface and earn its effect. A hard-won battle with material, color and composition. To me painting is about creating problems not solving them. Pushing to find the base element within the domain of an aesthetic. As I see it everywhere you look is exciting, it’s the process of looking that is the adventure.