Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am from Iowa, where I grew up and went to college. I moved to New York City when I was 22, to attend the School of Visual Arts for my MFA. I currently live and work in Queens, NY where I’ve been for 13 years now.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
As early as I can remember, I was drawing. I’ve always thought of myself as an artist. I went to college with the intent of studying graphic design, but switched to studio art in my first semester.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I live on a beautiful tree-lined street in a residential part of Queens, and I’m lucky to have a big basement studio in a duplex apartment. What I like most about this arrangement is that I can paint into all hours of the night, or get out of bed and work right away. And the refrigerator is just upstairs.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I like exploring what lurks under the surface. I’m interested in how the unconscious manifests itself through symbols and communication. I guess you could say where depth psychology and semiotics interface. The titles of my paintings are often lifted from a 1973 book called, Metatalk: The Guide to Hidden Meaning In Conversation by Nierenberg and Calero.
What is your process like?
My process involves chance as much as possible, especially to initiate a work. My latest group of paintings start with a gaseous nebula of spray paint that I do in the dark, at night, in my backyard when the neighbors are asleep. The final layer looks as if it was torn from another source, and integrated into the atmosphere of the background at random, but there is some thought that goes into this final layer. Sometimes too much thought.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
Automation, dissociation and ultimately reconciliation are some of the visual themes that I explore with figure/ground trickery. The interplay of the lights and objects juxtaposed into the background creates an unlikely harmony in spite of their dissociative elements, resulting in a synergy. I like being the invisible glue in my work, serving as a mediator to foster a spirit of unity in a painterly moment.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I was extremely fortunate to have two wonderful mentors in college, who provided a yin-yang type of balanced influence. Terri McGaffin and John Bowitz from Iowa are still two of the most encouraging and important people to me.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
A community is necessary; after grad school I tried making art in a vacuum, and it doesn’t work very well, even for an introvert who prefers solitude. Getting input and diverse feedback from other people is crucial for growth.
What is your studio like?
My studio is underground: two large rooms, with its own bathroom attached. It’s private, isolated, and pretty great. Cedarwood incense gives it an uplifting aroma.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I like to paint in the morning, when I have the attention to make things look nice, but I really get going in the evening; late nights are when my ideas come out. Music has always been the secret and most essential ingredient. I also drink a lot of green tea.
How would you define “success” in art?
Making work that resonates with people.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
Maybe the most exciting thing I’ve done or accomplished was discovering that I could make a successful painting without using any reference materials or models.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the third set of an ongoing painting series called, Gaslighting. I’ve also been doing some mandala/grid drawings with pen. I have an upcoming solo museum show in my hometown that opens early 2020, so I am preparing for that as well.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for all of your hard work! This is a great opportunity and platform you provide for artists.