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Artist Statement

My artwork explores paint through abstraction by simplifying painting to its material essence: support and medium. These fundamental components of painting are seen in my work through a variety of materials ranging from natural to synthetic. The influence of nature, particularly landscape, is both inspiration and an organizing principle within my artwork. Landscape, the raw material of the earth, shaped by millions of years of slow deposition and erosion, is referenced with thick layers of acrylic paint. In my current body of stratified work, the moment of individual layers is unique and important, since each layer was created at a separate time. The reference to landscape ties my work to the layers accumulated on the face of the earth. I want the viewer to ponder this, and ask himself “what would my layer look like?”

The process of layering is best exemplified in the piece titled Paintskin, which uses thick layers of acrylic paint that are sliced open, revealing a soft inside that will eventually harden, crack, and fade. The weight of the material is supported in a way that allows gravity to dictate form. The presence of this painting, created by its size, the space it occupies, and the sensual nature of paint, plays up the relationship between the paint to the body of the viewer. By slicing open these layers of paint, it allows the viewer a window into the object’s creation and the opportunity to see the underlying structure inside. Layers of paint begin to resemble cross sections of earth. The synthetic landscape is immediately subjected to natural systems constantly at play. Gravity pulls it into shape creating voids and shadow; humidity in the air makes it sweat. The material becomes a microcosm of ourselves, opened up for us to see.

Although my work emphasizes that humans are a part of nature, it also explores the current trend of humankind detaching itself from the natural world. In my piece Shaped by Gravity, natural objects such as magnolia leaves, sweet gumballs, and sycamore seed pods are dipped in successive layers of acrylic paint. This becomes a metaphor for human interaction with nature, as we attempt to control and even hide the natural. The paint used in this and pieces like it is acrylic house paint, often times miss-tints, which are colors that get returned to the store because they are not quite what the buyer wanted. The colors were meant to mimic nature, usually earth tones, with names like “Sea Breeze” or “Autumn Harvest.” By using these paints, we invite a natural referent into our house, and use it to cover the walls we put up to keep actual nature out. However, in my work, nature prevails. In Shaped by Gravity, gravity shapes the paint dipped leaves and pods which grow like icicles with each layer. As it dries, atmosphere and time cause the paint to crack and deteriorate. I speed up this process by dissecting the paint/pods into smaller pieces, revealing organic layers next to synthetic layers. The synthetic paint might provide a barrier to delay the decay of the organic within, but nature takes its course. It shows us that humans are not the synthetic jacket of paint, rather we are the natural object within.