“con.Text” is a series of 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.
In this series I examine mankind’s endless demand for energy and expansion in the name of human advancement. The cost of this addiction to power in animal species and environment are deep and irreversible.
I cut apart landscapes of trees and nature and place them one on top of each other, breaking their continuity, while bending and merging what remains. The juxtaposition of the two worlds reveals the struggle we face today with the future of our planet dependent on our ability to balance the increasing demand for resources and the needs of the natural world.
We take for granted that ecosystems will continue unchanged while we exploit and devastate the natural world and environment for gain. The hubris of the human species will be it’s own demise if we cannot come to terms with the change we are wreaking on the planet through the exploitation and devastation of the environment.
I believe we have already tipped beyond the point where recovery of the environment is possible. Mass extinctions are happening and climate change is beginning to irreversibly change the world. I am hopeful we can change the course of human folly so that we may avoid the unknown devastation to come.