HAND TOOLS remind me of the satisfying mechanical task of real physical work. Like most of us, I am spending too much time in front of a computer screen, as I am right now.
While I am painting or drawing these tools, I am immersed in the satisfying structure of the form. They are perfect. These Hand Tools need to be perfect. By studying them further, I am reminded of the role they play in human life. Hand Tools are a liaison between the organic nature of the human body and the mathematical structures we build to survive on this planet. They need to be organic enough for our hands to hold with comfort yet engineered to behave mathematically.
A memory is often triggered by a relatively mundane event. It could be triggered by politics, a podcast, a family drama, a death, an injury or often times, just an off hand statement. Yet, more often, an old memory can be triggered by a piece of art. By writing stories, I feel that connective tissue linking memories is revealed. Seeking the underlying thread of meaning and finding meaning in our lives is like finding a golden thread.
When I write a story, drawings get sketched, images get cropped, dissected, sewn, destroyed. Decisions get made. Am I painting? Am I writing? Am I drawing? Deciding on the path will help me to stitch these threads together. Through the process, the reasons begin to surface. When a confusing journey lands in a logical place, I know I am on the right path for the work to evolve.
“THE NECKLACE” is a story written in 3 PARTS:
At this writing, I have only illustrated PART 3. CHAPTER ONE tells the tale of the adventure that ensued during and beyond my journey home traveling home with my mother’s ashes in the front seat of my car. CHAPTER TWO tells the tale of the gifting of the necklace, and the taking back of the necklace, throughout an entire lifetime. CHAPTER THREE tells the tale of the final visitation of my mother in the form of a praying mantis. Really, she just wanted her diamond necklace back for the last time. Yet, in the illustration of this story, a deeper truth of inherited fear is revealed.
The Feral lies just beneath the surface of the Human Animal. The 6-foot portrait series entitled “BEAST” presents our angst ridden friends at human scale. People collect animals. We collect them in zoos, in our homes, in our stories, in our popular culture. We transform them into digestible versions of what they truly are. We try to humanize them. We observe animals in endless documentaries. We enslaved them to perform in the Circus. We infuse them with human traits through our movies, animations and literature. We give them language skills, put clothing on them. We use them as symbols possessing mystical powers. We associate them with religious piety. We interact with them in our myths and fairy tales. We attempt to domesticate them. Yet, ultimately, the animal is un-tame-able. This un-tame-ability is reflective of the un-tame-ability of the planet itself. This un-tame-ability is nature. And ultimately, we are made of that same stuff of nature. The beast can speak truth to power. Animals mirror truth back onto the self. By not fearing wildness, but rather accommodating it, I believe we can create more balance in ourselves and our planet. Through my work, I strive to understand this better.
These lovely ladies are pointing their guns right at you. No Fear. No Apologies. They confront the viewer and confront shortcomings. They announce a fierce level of protection to country, community and family. They call the viewer to act, to think, to consider and then ultimately, to back down.
Women sharpshooters were popular in the circus during the 19th and 20th centuries. They chose to live a life that was not defined by the limitations of their gender. As a member of the circus they were a bit outside of societal norms. They were not limited by society’s definitions of how to behave. They were not afraid to confront any direct threat to their autonomy.
The circus is a ferocious place. It is constructed by sweat, flesh, ritual and community and sometimes desperation. I have been really inspired by the circus in recent years. Not only does the visual fanfare of the circus spark the muse, it is also a window into the perplexing state of democracy. It easily serves as a rife metaphor for the seedy nature of our politics. The jester was the original spokesperson for “Truth to Power” speaking freely, in verse and without overt fear of retribution. Here, in these paintings, the Assassins are akin to the court jester, although without any of the humor.
The CAT FIGHT paintings capture the moment when stillness becomes intention. Observing animal behavior through the eyes of a human is a great signifier. Those are absolutely crazy moments of deadly growls and vicious attacks. A power-play between cats is a subtle yet terrifying game of who is protecting who and why. This intimidation and submission flips and flops back and forth. It is like a game, yet it is also not. The domination and the submission and the fear and the tomfoolery. Those stressful moments that almost appear to be taunts, flirts and then attacks. These images are screen shots taken from YouTube videos that people record and upload and then watch. They are unseemly, terrifying and sometimes deadly. I never am able to watch it through to a really violent end. It’s the taunting and teasing and intimidation that interests me most. The Feral lies just beneath the surface of the Human Animal. In this case, the composition and the color make a violence civilized.
Embedded in the images of the Wild Boar lives the possibilities of a vast symbol system. There are environmental issues, explorations of the self, explorations of relationships, food, the land, as well as formal concepts to be explored. This incredibly fertile territory is conceptually riveting. The Wild Boar/Pig and all of its incarnations on this planet speak to multiple levels of metaphor with many levels of association. Their survival and fecundity in the face of overt hatred of their presence is baffling. They are smart, loving, fierce survivors. Beautiful is the ugliest most engaging way.