The White Columns Curated Artist Registry
is an online platform for emerging and under-recognized artists to share images and information about their respective practices. The Registry seeks to create a context for artists who have yet to benefit from wider critical, curatorial or commercial support. To be eligible, artists cannot be affiliated with a commercial gallery in New York City.
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STATEMENT OF WORK
My paintings depict captive figures that attempt to escape through growth, transformation, and duplicity. Their cages are societal, personal, emotional, political, familial, and historical. I play with nonsensical visual solutions that, like P.T. Barnum, point towards the egress: the exit doors. The escape route that I depict is formed of emerging imagined figures, which are continually transformed and reformed by the constraints that compose the visual system in which they function.
I generally begin creating a body of work with a specific narrative, history, or motif in mind, which then connects itself to associative imagery, a movement which speaks to the mutability of the construction of the self. Each new body is conceived as a separate, but related, story. This means that representationally the work varies from one exhibition to the next. In a similar gesture, stylistically, the paint handling, application, and mediums often take many forms within a single picture, capturing a number of speeds.
As a person born into a culturally mixed identity, I often feel both an internal and external pressure to choose a singular identity. Working in hybrid forms expresses my liminality; this isn’t a conscious choice, but an intuitive one and integral to who I am. Working with stylistic and spatial multiplicity gives legitimacy and visibility to my own hybridity which allows me to move and shift between selves and consider identity as polymorphous and multiple.
Recent narrative structures have included caged animals at night, clown car jailbreaks, and makeshift rafts adrift at sea, based on historical maritime disasters. In each instance, the figures are trapped — by metal bars, the open ocean, or the speed of a moving car — and are in search of freedom and survival. The pictures are at times cacophonous and puzzling, with parts of bodies appearing and disappearing and objects moving in irrational directions. In Scene of Shipwreck, depictions of water, made through super impasto abstractions to thinned down drips, flow and splash in every which direction, while limbs appear to reach both in and out of the water at the same time, giving a sense of directionless space. The painting is based on a close reading of the journal of the survivors of the Méduse shipwreck in 1816 and is an attempt to reconsider the story, canonized in our minds through Gericault’s famous painting, as a roadmap for a community adrift which portrays various interpretations of a number of its continually emerging themes including cannibalism, collision, homonym and the will to survive.
Surrounded by the western canon on a recent trip to Spain and Italy, I returned with an interest in making biblical paintings that could capture our contemporary rhetorical moment. My newest paintings are based on the strange depictions of angels in the Book of Ezekiel. Their bodies are described like burning coals, covered in eyes with multiple faces, screaming “holy, holy, holy.” In short: terrifying. I was drawn to this description because it shows indistinguishability, or visual equivalency, between angels and demons: fallen angels. There are clear parallels for me in terms of contemporary political rhetoric of righteousness and the concept of mutability. This shouldn’t be misinterpreted in a defense of moral relativism, but rather as a defense of engaging complexity in a world of varied subjectivities. The screams are equal parts internal and external.
The visual construction of my paintings is a representation of the plurality of identity. I approach painting as an opportunity to escape the confines of societal systems that oppress through their inadequacy at capturing the truth of our experience through our many emergent selves. The pictures I create are imagined sites of resistance, the end goal being a freedom to construct in a continuous re-creation of an imagined narrative.