Welcome to my blog...and I promise that (except for this time) it won't be all about me!
As an artist who loves to write, I've been looking for an outlet other than a Facebook post where I can share bits and pieces of my process, my travels, and, most importantly, where I can feature the work of artists, designers, writers, and others who inspire me. And so, with a bit of hesitation, I decided to start a blog again. While I can't say that this blog will not be about me at all (after all, I'm the one writing it), I hope that the focus will shift away from me and towards the many incredible people doing awesome things that I encounter every single day. It will also be a way to keep you connected to my travels, and parts of my process and research that are often hidden from view. I'm looking at it as an assignment to write a mini essay each Friday, and I hope that I don't get a letter grade of "F"! In the past, I've struggled with consistency, but I think part of that is simply being sick of writing about myself (I do enough of that on social media, in grant applications, etc). With a broader focus, I hope that my new blog can be more interesting for me AND those who read it!
That all being said, this particular post is all about me. I just finished the third of three solo exhibitions within the past nine months. Duplicitous Diffusion is currently on display at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, SD through September 16th, and represents one of the largest installations that I've created to-date. I'll be sharing professional photos with you soon, but to get this blog started, I decided to share a bit of the impetus behind this work. It's a culmination of many things that have captivated me over the past year. Here's an excerpt from my artist talk in the gallery last week:
"Up until the past year, sources that heavily influenced my work tended to embody, in some way, both beauty and violence. I studied extensively, for example, the filigrees on historic weapons. How could objects so intricately designed be utilized in such catastrophic ways? The contradiction of form and function in everyday objects and images fascinates me, and in my installations pattern, repetition, symmetry, and bold color are often facades that collapse when scrutinized, revealing more sinister underpinnings. By recombining a variety or real and imagined sources, I create new structures, characters, and stories that play out in exhibition spaces. The stories I create are not literal, but rather the stuff of abstraction that asks a lot of the viewer, and which probably provides them with more questions than answers.
That is definitely the case with the work that surrounds you in the gallery. Duplicitous Diffusion is an amalgamation of forms, materials, and imagery that have fascinated me recently. The grandiose scale of the Washington Pavilion's Everist gallery yields not one viewing experience, but instead a variety of vignettes. Instead of concentrating on a concrete relationship between various materials and imageries, I allowed myself to deviate wildly, to explore absurd and poetic possibilities with materials, and to imagine a world where the embedded imagery was so fractalized and so camouflaged that it is almost impossible to locate. I indulged my desire to tell stories through simple juxtapositions between textures and colors. I hope that the result is poetic, absurd, and perplexing. I felt all of those emotions when I created the work. There are elements of the work that reference specific imagery to be certain—the cream felt that emanates from forms is traced to resemble the silhouette of a gun, as is the black felt. Other forms, however, are far less referential to a single image, and far more the result of playing with how the material drapes, trying to arrive at something that is rife with possibility without being any one thing.
When I began creating large-scale installations, I would talk about systemic failure. I was interested in providing a visual corollary to systemic failure, imagining what it looks like when a bunch of small parts that are supposed to work together don’t quite do so. All of my work on some level explores futility: The futility of our efforts to control things, the forces that act on beauty, and the beauty that is embedded in places we don’t expect to encounter it. The futility of creating structure with materials that don't want to be structured.
In this work, I didn’t set limits on how I processed content. While we often cling to the literal, I find that this work is more akin to the literary, and fiction in particular. I read about gun violence and climate change. I delight in contemporary fashion design. I fuse highbrow and lowbrow sources, good and bad sources, beautiful and ugly color and pattern. And I try to create fictions that are evocative, intelligent, and engaging.
My process is low tech—the forms are arrived at through a simple bending and folding of materials that I sometimes refer to as wonky origami. I often joke that I have no skills, and I am not really kidding. The environments I create are made of materials and techniques that are simple and mundane. The illusion that the works are complex is easily shattered upon close viewing, where it is clear that it’s just felt or just building foam, and that three-dimensionality is created through the use of the most rudimentary techniques. It’s part of the artifice of the work, and also a way that I bring it back to the viewer. It’s not just a world of art, it’s a world of patterns and associations that exist outside of art.
In the end, you, the viewers, complete my work. Your interpretations, questions, explorations, and investigations are what excite me most. Your presence in the work, and your willingness to venture through it, is what makes this installation art as opposed to an installation of art. You don’t look at the art—you are part of it."
Thanks to those of you who have cheered me on this year, and to those of you who have followed my work from the beginning. You all make what I do feel meaningful and worthwhile, and your support and enthusiasm means so much to me. And, I'll be reaching out to many of you to see if you'd be willing to be featured on this blog. Because, as it turns out, I know *a few* amazing people. Happy summer to all of you, and thanks for reading!