In the early part of any project things are very open and exploratory. I typically start with a very general idea and start collecting images, making diagrams and charts, and playing with paper. At some point I settle on a color system and a form, and then it is really about just executing the work. The piece I am currently working on is in the production phase, so I will be printing, cutting, glueing, and weaving for the next 2 months. I can calculate pretty exactly how long each part will take. Some days this feels tedious, and other days it feels liberating. Throughout this whole phase, as my hands are moving, I am thinking and, hopefully, germinating new ideas for future work.
Color is the mechanism by which our eyes make sense of light hitting an object. It simultaneously describes the surface of an object and its shape, allowing us to understand our physical relationship to the things around us. I like to play with this duality--color's decorative nature on the one hand, and it's utilitarian, physiological function on the other. I always use color according to the sequencing of the visible spectrum (R-O-Y-G-B-P), and develop systems to build the work based on that. The spectacular patterning that results is actually a by-product of my attempt to organize colors in ways that make sense to me.
I like them exactly equally! I am most interested in work that sits, perhaps uneasily, right between those two disciplines. I love the ambiguity of sculpture. The differences between a sculpture and a utilitarian object, like a basket or a rug, can be subtle. In both cases the object exists in the same space with you, and there is a lot of room to play with that and raise questions about what you are seeing and how you are supposed to interact with it. With a painting, you know right away what it is and what your relationship to it should be. But I am interested in the varieties of fictional space that can be created in a painting.
I primarily use printmaking to generate material, printing full sheets of color that I then cut down and weave, fold, or stack. So I don’t really think of myself as a printmaker, but I do think printmaking is a perfect bridge between painting and sculpture.
Didn’t I, Didn’t I, Didn’t I (Two) was produced as part of the Special Editions Residency at the Printshop. For this project I wanted to challenge myself to do a more traditional print. My work is usually labor intensive and takes a long time and sometimes I need some instant gratification, so I’ll make a colored pencil drawing in one sitting to work out some ideas. The edition grew out of one of these drawings. I liked the idea of taking this very spontaneous and intuitive thing and then subjecting it to the careful analysis necessary to recreate it as a print. The print has an intensity that comes from that rigorous breaking down and putting back together the parts.
Since I always think of the sculptural work as drawings or paintings in real space, it was actually interesting for me to then take those ideas back to two-dimensional space. The edition still works with a woven structure, but instead of strips of paper physically moving over and under each other, you get an illusion of layering from the overlapping areas of transparent color. The final prints almost feel like pressed flowers--like an object with a shallow dimensionality that has been flattened by pressure, which makes sense since the basis of most printmaking is applying pressure to an inked surface.
I'm working on a solo project for Real Art Ways in Hartford Ct. It will be my largest installation so far. I will be making two large-scale forms (1 x 8 x 8 feet each) which will then appear to be effected by two different kinds of light. The pieces will fill the entire room and the viewer will be able to negotiate between these two objects. I will hopefully also be showing a series of related drawings.
I am not sure what the myths are, but I think the reality is that it is a really gratifying way to spend your life if you can make it work on a practical level. I’m stealing this from an artist I heard give a talk recently, who said one of the best things about being an artist is that anything you encounter over the course of your day might be relevant to your practice. And I love that idea, that any mundane object or event can become charged and important.
I live in Brooklyn now and consider that my home. I have a son in elementary school and I have done some great art projects with the kids at his school, which has been very inspiring. I plan on doing more projects at his school this year and will hopefully continue to do that over the coming years.
I first came to the Printshop in 2008 to take a screenprinting class, with the intention of making some wallpaper. At the time my artwork was primarily drawing and sculpture, and I had never done any printmaking. I quickly realized that this was the perfect medium to bring drawing and sculpture together, and at that time I began the body of work that I am still working on today. The restrictions of the Printshop—such as limited storage, and having to be very neat and organized—have been paradoxically liberating for me, forcing me to really focus my ideas and work in a productively disciplined way.
I very much enjoyed this interview and really appreciate the thoughtful questions! I think it’s a challenge for any artist to talk about what they do, so it’s actually very useful for me to have to sit down and try to be clear about my ideas and process.