A dream is a fertile beginning point for an artist because it so quickly dissolves if not documented. Dreams are the kernels of stories and the underpinnings of my paintings. My dreams, as with my earliest childhood memories, remain with me as color and texture impressions. Even when I’m not able to name the characters projected upon my subconscious I can clearly recall the lighting, the time of day, the surface and a sense of the atmosphere.
Each work in this series begins with the dream memory in the form of a color field—in my case an expanse of similar colors that depict an atmosphere. While abstract, each painting could be categorized by its type of atmosphere: above-ground, below-ground, underwater, on land and in space. Within this atmospheric space, its occupants exist along a spectrum of opposites: biological and mechanical; menacing and delicate. I shy away from constructing explicitly recognizable beings, but instead borrow from universal devices and features found in the organic and synthetic: the jointed arm, the pinching claw, the net that gathers and the aperture that spews. Working in cut paper interests me because it allows for both intense planning and experimentation. When I’m drawing and cutting out my more elaborate creatures, my reference material might include electron microscope images of algae or a section of a spider’s web. When I’m creating an imagined environment with layers of marks and milky puddles of acrylic, I imagine distant nebulas and gaseous currents in deep space.
This body of work is heavily influenced by my love of science and science fiction. As a high school student, I remember adoring Biology class and the assignment of diagramming life’s processes through illustration. Later, while majoring in drawing in painting at the University of Michigan, I briefly explored the field of scientific illustration. I was drawn to the subject matter in my scientific illustration assignments: bug’s wings, ostrich bones, shriveled bell peppers and preserved organs. I quickly discovered that my expressive and heavy-handed drawing approach was not conducive to illustrating these subjects in a way that would be actually useful to a budding scientist, but I was nevertheless enamored by the merging of science and creative expression. Even as we invent devices to record the minuscule and distant wonders, artists are called upon on to imagine what can’t be directly observed. One example is when I saw an artist’s depiction of how gravitational waves work in space. Black holes colliding and rippling the fabric of space-time—what a glorious and terrifying thought.
I seek to capture my reverence for the unknown by creating abstract worlds that remind one of spiritual touchstones. I use symmetry, repetition and strong figure-ground contrasts to evoke emotion from the layers of painted papers. Within my compositions, my creatures interact in gentle and menacing ways; and arrange themselves in glyph-like fashion as if trying to communicate in a language we haven’t yet learned.
View The Series as it Grows: Click on images to view in slideshow format