I am interested in illusions, in things not being quite what they seem. I am attracted to painting because it allows me to create an illusion and simultaneously reveal the means of its production. Oil painting’s wet viscosity allows for ongoing shifting of structure; it is does not have to be “either/or,” “on/off,” “0/1.” I prefer to use paint to maximize this characteristic– its ability to both make an image and revert to material.
As the pictorial function of painting has been replaced with more efficient photographic and digital capture and dissemination, it is painting’s very physicality that is critical. The nuanced, dimensional touch of oil paint is a sensitive record of the human hand in a moment of time, captured in a way that is palpable and visual. This is a somewhat romantic view, as it gives a degree of primacy to painting’s corporeal existence — a valuing of the body present, a feminized artifact. And, there is an inherent distrust of this embodiment. Physicality? Touch? Object of gaze? Object of market desire? Egad! This romantic view is balanced by the need of the hand to be rooted in the present, to be a part of our contemporary experience.
In the subject matter of my paintings, things are often not quite what they seem: lovely interiors, on closer consideration, lead to disquieting seduction; figures raise Pygmalian-esque questions of transformation; wallpaper details, luscious statuary, give way to recognition of issues of power and subjugation. I try to make work that has beauty to attract and complexity to sustain observation.
The Coloring Book portfolio and Paper Doll series, ongoing
The Coloring Book portfolio and the Paper Doll series within this portfolio emerged from my interest in harnessing the detached coolness of digital processes (from photo, to scan, to Photoshop, to print) in order to generate a drawing to be printed for my paintings. The digital print I seek provides a linear rendering that is neither a digital trace nor a hand-drawn gesture, but a hybrid between the two. This quality is a subtlety, a movement between binary and non-binary, that is echoed again in the relationships between the gestural, indeterminate quality of oil painting and the determined topology of the digital rendering. This dialogue between fixed/mutable, intention/accident, machine made/handmade, binary/non-binary, certain/uncertain has always informed my artistic practice.
The Coloring Book portfolio and the Paper Doll series is certainly a tongue-in-cheek reference to child’s play. The paper doll reference is to the format, media, and subject of these paintings. These are relatively large paintings and digital print hybrids, created on sheets of paper, sourced from a 50-yard roll. The paper provides a structural ease for changing scale and impact; it, quite literally, can be cut up and added to. The paper also conveys an undercurrent of informality or, more insidiously, of disposability. The digitally generated line drawing is a further reference to a coloring book, a surface designed to force the recognition of, if not the reconciliation within, the conflict between free agency and external control.
The Paper Doll Series are images of individual women engaged in simple acts of traditional domestic labor: folding laundry, watering, digging, etc. These acts, simple, essential, by hand, are my visual and conceptual focus. The grand traditions of these acts in art addressing issues of class and gender provide a given framework that underlies a more dominant interest in examination of loss of hand, loss of access to labor, a loss of simple agency.
For over a decade, I examined fantasies presented in popular magazines. The largest series from this work was based on photographs of interiors from high-end shelter magazines (Architectural Digest, Nest, etc.) These interiors present us with a fantasy of materialist beauty. These commercial images are compelling subjects for my paintings because they reveal much about our consumptive desires. I am interested in what these fantasies reveal upon closer inspection and in what is veiled in seduction.
My work shifted emphasis from more formal concerns of the interior space towards an increased focus on the contents of the interiors themselves. “Virginal” portraits, “exotic” bric- a-brac, male statuary with excessive musculature, colonial plantation wall-paper, etc., are “hidden” images. Used for decorative purposes, these images and their connotations are overlooked within the glamour and luxury of the fantastic rooms. Over time, my paintings began to deal with these figures in an increasingly direct way.