Moving pieces of color around, on any kind of surface, has long been one of my favorite things to do. When I was growing up I could easily spend countless hours rearranging the magic markers in a box. Needless to say, the bigger the assortment of colors in the box, the better. That was just the beginning of this road on which I continue to travel. And even though I never set out to become an artist, at some moment in time, it became clear that I was never going to stop making marks or moving bits colors around on a page. There didn't appear to be a choice in the matter, making art had set out to find me.
A fascination with and love of color is and always has been the fuel for my work. I begin many pieces in the printmaking studio where I create a series of monotypes by quickly building a layered surface on a plexiglass plate and making multiple passes through the press. These pieces are then reworked with other materials, ultimately being torn up and reconfigured as collages — not unlike putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The challenge is to fit each of the disparate pieces together in a way that is both inevitable and surprising — finding the perfect balance in which each part can play its pivotal role, and together they can all add up to a whole that makes sense.
My goal is to create visual poems that serve as a snapshot of a moment in time in which the anatomy of a memory can be explored through an abstract lens. Using a variety of tools and media in each piece, an image emerges that presents a mysterious blend of color, shape and mark that hides as much as it reveals and thus invites a closer look at what lies just below the surface. By sifting through the recesses within to uncover fragments of experiences, I create collages with layered histories that mirror my own — ultimately mapping an internal landscape.
After my first visit to Italy in 1991, and a 5-month stay in 1993, I focused on the idea of an archeological dig as a metaphor for my own creative process of searching through the depths of memory. During the next decade I developed an iconography using pieces of architectural remnants and fragments found among the ruins to describe how the past coexists with and informs the present. As the work continued to develop, however, I slowly started to remove some of the references to particular places, pieces of buildings, columns, and ruins, replacing them instead with an implied architecture, describing an expanse of space and time which reaches beyond the surface and boundaries of the painting.
I begin each of these pieces by applying and sanding several layers of a combination of joint compound and gesso, until I arrive at a surface that is already full of marks. From there I apply multiple layers of transparent color which are often scraped back in areas, and reapplied over and over until an image slowly begins to present itself. These oil and wax paintings, whether on wood panels or paper, wear their own history as layers of skin that when added one upon the next result in a luminous display of woven experiene.
Prior to my longer visit to Italy in 1993, I constructed several handbound books with the intention of using them to make sketches and do a lot of visual note-taking. It became apparent, however, shortly after arriving and settling into a working rhythm, that what I was doing was far more than making sketches, or taking notes. I was creating fully realized mixed media pieces right in the books. Thus, I continued to work that way– intentionally. I begin the process by making the book, and then one page at a time, filling it up–working directly on the page in the already bound book.
Each piece presents the viewer with an intimate look from the past to the present and back again. In general I begin each page with a restricted palette, making an underpainting in gouache and tempera or watercolor. From there, pieces begin to emerge, upon which I develop a specific image with collage and oil pastels, or sometimes pieces of wax paintings. In the end each page presents its own history with multiple layers of marks, shape and color that together serve as a road map leading the viewer on an investigative journey from the beginning of the book to the end.