I am interested in visual subjects exploring authenticity and identity, feminism and destruction. I am curious about the constructs of creativity in bilingual cultures and the limits of language in different cultures. I am disturbed by injustice, and my response is to create a depiction of language’s potential ambiguities.
So much of what I create is informed by my studies in language and deconstruction combined with the very unusual art education in my father’s iconography studio. The two fused, and what I seem to filter is an amalgam that reveres the play of language and vision. English is such a strange language - it is mostly symbolic, the words so far removed from their actual roots that play in the language is a given. I think that is why I am both fascinated and anxious about ambiguity – in language, in visual language, and in the world. How does it inform us? How does that play in visuals (because language and communication are also visual) inform us and direct us? What is universal in cultural assumptions, what confusion arises from what isn’t universal, is there a truth at the basis of all this?
The same fascinations and obsessions that arise out of my history, also make me want to destroy and re-assemble, to respect destruction, to document and report on it. Eva Hoffman reports in "Lost In Translation", that when first asked why she was qualified to be a critic, she answered “because I am an immigrant.” I am an immigrant, and the reporter in me is always alert. I lack the judging facility, as an active choice, as it keeps me porous as an artist. I would much rather process, destroy and re-assemble. Yet, it is not a process devoid of emotion, it isn’t intellectual only, as I put a tremendous amount of love and respect into this process.
I am disturbed by injustice, and my response is to create a depiction of language's potential ambiguities.
The Fingerprint series arose out of the need to express various parts of identity in a simple and basic manner. The word Pneuma in Greek is intelligent spirit, Psyche is soul and Eros is sexual love. I used the notion of the three primary colors as an interpretation of primary individuality on a black ground and a white ground. Pneuma, Psyche, Eros, both with and without light, are my primary expressions of being. From that, all secondary and tertiary expression can spring. It is not my thumbprint however. It is my index finger. I do not want to claim the spotlight. I do not have the “answer.” I would much rather live in expressions of brotherhood/sisterhood.
Secular Icon Series
My Secular Icon Series is my love child. An image takes hold of me, often from a photograph, that has some tension, some ambiguity and undeclared dichotomy. I don’t like working from live models on these pieces, as it creates too much noise in my head about what could be true. My intent is to destroy as much of the reality and emotional filters used in our daily life and somehow get to the true reality and center of the subject. I can work on these paintings for years, letting the process do what it does.
Slowly, the various series I have been working on have started to join, conjoin, morph, meld, evolve into something new.
Primal Language Series
In the Primal Language paintings, I was experimenting with collage and removing vowels in language. What cultural assumptions inform the choice of words, the choice of interpretation of these paintings? It is still a work in progress, as the reaction of viewers is a vital aspect of this collection. When I first showed these paintings in my studio, some people were very angry at me. The political tension is made viable through the language. Is the lack of communication based on cultural assumptions? Much violence occurs when the words to communicate disappear or don’t exist. Can I show that visually? Can I make you feel that when you look at these images, without vowels, connected on a flat surface? Do you feel empathy or do you polarize? What happens to you, the viewer?
Heaven and Hell Series
The photographs of St. Francis’ renovation were about destruction, debris, the roots and structure of what is real, the foundation of the spiritual, and creation. While working in that church, there were so many moments that felt straight out of Heaven and Hell, as all the workers created beauty in a spiritual institution amidst the din of table saws and hammers and chains rattling. I was eating dirt, sweating bullets and photographing the joy of that destruction and resurrection. Light came in through the stained glass, casting shadows and illuminating the sawdust suspended in the air, the dust of ages being resurrected to create something new. These images were originally tests for my paintings, playing with negative and positive space, and some will eventually be made into paintings. They were then digitally manipulated and re-assembled.
Slowly, the various series I have been working on have started to join, conjoin, morph, meld, evolve, into something new. They are still expressions of my search. Mostly, I am trying to find the universals in all of us.