Tell us about your journey as an artist. How did it all start?
I started my artistic pursuits when I was in early elementary school. I realized that I could draw Batman and Garfield well enough to get me attention from the other kids, so I kept it up. After falling in love with it (and coming to the realization that I wasn’t really good at anything else) , I made the commitment to focus on art as my career. I went to school at a small environmental liberal arts college where I focused on painting and earned a BFA. After that I moved to Connecticut, where I have been painting ever since.
What makes your art and subject matter different than other artists?
What makes my work different is a self-critical nature that explores both my own personal privilege and that of much of our society . I analyze my cultural heritage as a foundation of systemic oppression, subjugation and racism that has trickled and scaled down through generations to purvey a footing of comfortable advantages that get unnoticed, overlooked or ignored. These concepts- infused with absurdism, humor and competing painting styles and color palettes- deliver a tension and engagement that (I HOPE) stands out.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I ultimately want to provoke a dialogue both with one’s self and with others to tackle a cognitive dissonance that keeps us from acknowledging our own privileges and complacencies and ignorances, both in our personal lives and scaled up to our societies and our unseen cultural castes. If I can do that while making bold and visually sumptuous images, without being too heavy-handed, then I’ll consider that a success.
What inspires you creatively? What do you think squashes creativity?
Things that inspire my creativity are seeing the passion and creativity in others and exploring subjects that are foreign to me and challenge my thinking and preconceptions. I love learning about the constant changes in science, technology and ways of thinking that shift the way we interact with our reality. Confronting these things makes people feel uncomfortable and frightened of the future, but for me that anxiety is a very interesting thing to explore. What I think squashes creativity is the pursuit of prestige for prestige’s sake. You can gain prestige as a byproduct of your actions, and that's great, but identifying those actions and pursuing them as a means to an end of prestige among your peers seems misguided and squashes true creativity and honesty.
Each piece of your work tells its own story. Describe how you go from a blank canvas to and end piece.
The start to finish process can go from crystal clear vision to total chaos very quickly and then back to a resolved agreement between myself and the painting. I will start with a codex of visual imagery in my head that evokes a specific feeling or idea that has no tangibility or formal language. My job is to create that unique language with symbolism, color and mannerist figuration that is hopefully emotionally universal. Once I start fleshing out the painting it starts to tell me what it wants and what it doesn’t. I relate it to a child explaining to her parent exactly what crazy outfit she wants to wear today. As the parent, I have to compromise with that child so that she still gets what she wants but is also wearing something socially acceptable. Once the visual negotiations are at a happy place it’s just a matter of adding details that supplement the overall feel and emotion.
Do you have a favorite artist?
I have many artists that I love. I wouldn’t say I have a singular favorite but I have a shortlist of people that I admire the most because of their bold imagery, unique styles and vague and sometimes sinister subject matter that are very thought provoking and challenging. Among my favorites are Tala Madani, Peter Doig, Paula Rego, Kara Walker, Kim Dorland, George Condo, Kerry James Marshall, David Hockney, and John Currin.
Would you say your life experiences influences your art in any way?
Like any artist, my life experience has a huge bearing on my work. Moving to a heavily populated, culturally diverse area with huge economic disparity after a very modest upbringing in the rural countryside of Vermont has given me a perspective that plays heavily into my creative process.
Do you have any shows coming up in 2019?
My next show is happening very soon at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT where I will have a couple of paintings in a group show opening on January 13. The show will be up until February 7th.
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
I am always working on something. There is always a painting on my easel. Right now I am starting the last in a series of paintings I have been working on all year and after that I have a new series in mind that will probably change and evolve into something completely different than what I intend.