Early in my life I was greatly influenced by the work of Jasper Johns and Joseph Beuys. Both of these artists found ways to elevate popular iconography through the prism of their own experience. Like Marcel Duchamp who preceded them, the observer’s role became to create art’s meaning. I have also been greatly influenced by the work of Joseph Cornell who used the evocation of nostalgia to appeal to the viewer and used materials found in thrift shops to make his work. From the work of these artists I was encouraged to find my own voice in the flotsam and jetsam of America’s past and present. Themes in my work include growing up, socio-political issues, mental illness, metaphysics, redemption, and the concepts of time and change.
My work is composed of a variety of materials. Cornell once said “Everything can be used, but of course one doesn’t know it at the time. How does one know what a certain object will tell another?” If you would visit my studio you would see how firmly I believe in that sentiment, it is a guiding principal to my artistic process. The space that I work in is covered in bits and pieces from bygone eras. Sometimes I use cast off objects that I find in a local thrift stores and other times I use objects found at the many antique stores in rural Pennsylvania. I think about who may have used a tool or a toy in my work. I think about how these things were once new and valued but have now come to be in possession, discarded and unwanted. I attempt to return value to these items as a metaphor for redemption. There is a darkness to my work and I believe that this is due to the darkness in the act of redemption: the return to the unpleasant past and the balancing of it with a hopeful future. I often use gilding as a way to emphasize this transition from the valueless to the valuable. My process works on a deeply subconscious level. Often I start working without understanding where it will take me, often I do not know what the meaning of my work is until I need the final pieces to make it complete. There is a very Taoist bent in my work: to try to explain is often to chew my teeth. As Lao Tzu wrote, ”The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” this is my way.