Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am currently based in Northern New Jersey. I received my BA from Drew University in Madison, NJ in art and art history. I had a really great experience there and had the opportunity to learn from and work with the outstanding art faculty there, many of whom exhibit regularly in Manhattan. While at Drew, I also was able to take classes studying different religions. Those classes had a significant impact on the paintings I am making today.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I have been creating all my life, but I did not realize I wanted to make work seriously until college.
What do you like most about working where you do?
It is nice to have some distance from the city. It is important for my practice for the studio to be a quiet place. It is also so great to be close enough to New York to see art there frequently and stay engaged in that community. I am in the city often; it is so important to see work.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
In my practice, I am thinking about the idea of ritual. In religious practice, rituals are seen as repeated actions that have an endpoint, an outcome. By modeling my practice like a ritual, I seek to investigate this idea. I am searching for a solution through the repetitive nature of my process by scrubbing and dragging paint onto and off of the surface. Through this intimate practice, I find the paintings become embodiments of the self, vessels. My process has evolved in the last year as experimentation allowed me to find a process that worked. The process involves channeling my personal experiences and emotions in order to reach into spiritual dimensions to retrieve new forms and images. Paintings become capsules and cross-sections; they both contain and release talismanic energy, during and after their creation.
What is your process like?
I stopped making drawings for the paintings in order to draw directly on the painting surface instead. The paintings become more direct in this way. My practice of applying paint or other materials to a surface is intimate and bodily. My smaller works are often composed on the ground, using rags and other materials to apply, drag, and scrub the paint across the surface. There is a lot of physical movement involved in the creation of these paintings. These small paintings usually have had a handful of paintings created on the same surface that have all been wiped away and replaced with a new one. Since there are no preliminary drawings, all initial marks occur directly on the painting surface, creating a history of marks as they are successively wiped away. This process is sometimes visible in the transparent layers of oil. Occurring quickly and within a specified time frame of one day, multiple paintings will have existed on the same small painting surface, until one remains that makes sense. In terms of speaking about process as ritual, this final image or form is the result of the ritual, the endpoint. The larger works are made a bit differently and take longer to complete. Instead of making a slew of successive images until I find the right one, I begin larger paintings by knowing a singular form or word that gets applied to the painting surface.
I have also begun to think about different objects I attach to the surfaces, primarily wood parts from furniture. Attaching sculptural elements is a tactile response to creating the painting. The attachment of these elements, primarily made of wood, occurs at the beginning and throughout the process of painting. I associate furniture like chairs to the body; by attaching the pieces to the surface I am creating a commentary on embodiment.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I have been looking at Tantric paintings from Rajasthan, India. These paintings are created as part of a spiritual practice of the esoteric tradition, Tantra. The makers of the images do not consider themselves artists and the process is a ritual practice. Process reveals the image. I find this idea compelling and it is helpful when thinking about my own work. Tantric images use visual aids to allow for a transformative experience to take place.
I am also interested in Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. I often look at the Kabbalah tree of life as a way to create drawings due to its diagrammatic nature. A lot of the titles from my works come directly from Kabbalah and have very specific meanings for me.
In terms of artists, recently, I have been looking at Eva Hesse’s paintings from 1965. Looking at images of those works has been a big motivation recently.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
That is a secret!
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Great advice I once heard from an artist was that if you do not believe in your work no one else has any reason to. Other good advice I have heard is that it is okay to not know everything about your practice. You do not have to understand every part of your process. There is excitement in not knowing.
I have so many great mentors especially some who taught at Drew including Claire Sherman, Jason Karolak, Valerie Hegarty, and so many other great faculty.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
In this industry, it is important to be resilient and believe in what you are doing.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
I think that the idea of community is changing so much with technology. Communities no longer have to come from academic or residency programs. Communities can now be formed through Instagram where artists can learn about other artists’ processes who are not local to them. I think that has some great benefits for both emerging and established artists today!
What is your studio like?
In my studio, I keep a postcard size image of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. I think about the postcard size image as a talisman. I am interested in the idea of transubstantiation that is associated with the religious imagery. Also, the composition and color of that painting is so intriguing to me!
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
Music is important to my process. Favorites to listen to while working include Moses Sumney, Bauhaus, and a few independent groups.
What are you working on right now?
I have a couple upcoming projects I am excited about including a show in December at Warren County Community College in Washington, NJ and an online show in October on Ghost Omaha curated by Ian Tredway. More news to come soon!