I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2009 at the age of 29. Needless to say, my work, and my view of the role of art in my life, changed drastically. I no longer felt that my old work contained enough meaning to be a lifelong pursuit, especially after a near-death experience. I decided that I would dedicate my life to making things with my hands, everyday.
Hallucinating for hours while under the influence of both mortality and morphine, the experiences I had were regrettably mystical for a logical person, and conversely liberating. Though I hesitate to ever mention them - as they make me seem ridiculous, or worse, frivolous - I imagined myself flying at high speed, head first into a crystalline world of ideal geometries, all pervaded with benevolent illumination – the quintessential "Go toward the light" image we're so familiar with. As moving as this was, I was left with some unsettling questions about my internal experience, and actual real space outside my mind. I could not help but analyze, for example, why my brain would invent this charming, but conventional vision. What is the difference between real and imagined space? Were these images implanted in my memory by Pop culture, or were they a true picture of death?
How could I, somehow, talk about this experience in the medium of sculpture without being horribly cliche? I began an intentionally straightforward inquiry into the problem through small scale geometric origami. Perfect geometry is imaginary, and yet I find a deep longing to make "the ideal" as a basic form that can exist in real space. In my work, I am trying to speak about the contrast of real, human-made objects versus theoretical things–ideal geometry, mystical experience–that can only live in the mind. There is a tension between the abstract archetypes and the schlubby, imperfect, and intensely handmade objects I eventually produce. The language of geometry and mathematics approach the ideal, but can never reach it on account of their human origin, particularly when I attempt to make them in real space using only simple tools and my limited body.
Contemporary industrial design employs tessellated folding planar surfaces to create collapsible volumes (using incredible economy of means) in things like space ships, surgical implants, and automobile safety equipment. Surprisingly similar in design, there are many historical examples of tessellation in architecture and art, as in mosques, mosaic, and other abstract vehicles used to depict the sacred. I have lately been exploring these design concepts, using humble materials like plywood and canvas, by coupling tessellation with folding as a process, as a way of picturing these ideal geometries. By marrying tessellation with folding to create volumetric structures, I am trying to make sculptures that are both ancient and futuristic, hand-made, and in real space at a human scale.
100 years after Brancusi started incorporating the pedestal into sculpture, I have begun to integrate the support as an integral part. Because pedestals create a threshold between the real and imaginary and they imply a viewer, they create a relationship between the artwork and the viewer that would not already exist. Indeed, one can have an Art experience in a tiny individual viewing space. In these new works I am alluding to mid-century decorative modernism and conjuring domestic intimacy. They are an invitation to live in real space with a theoretical object. To have a tiny ideal in a tiny world within the larger welter of daily life.