Artist’s Statement

My work deconstructs space and challenges aesthetic ideas and processes related to oil painting while, at the same time, recording and preserving a changing, rural Adirondack regional culture. Using the relationship of painting to cinematic stills, I aim to give voice to narratives that consider topics of broad concern and clarify and redefine Adirondack identity. We live in a time when representational imagery and social media are often used in the service of lies; in contrast, I aim to paint truth.

Each image is a result of mining conversations in great depth. Sometimes I am prompted by my reaction to a recent news event, and I consider who might feel strongly about what just happened and ask questions. Other times I might be listening to a neighbor and they reveal what is most concerning them in a situation. And sometimes I just stumble upon a beautiful image and have the presence of mind to use my phone to take a photograph as these spontaneous images are often the most autobiographical. These photographic references taken over time are then enhanced by my own perceptions of the figure and the spaces they inhabit.

I begin each painting with a general drawing followed by layers of detail slowly added. Then I develop small sections using thick, textural brushstrokes while often subtracting excess information. These areas develop in the same way as my conversation with the subjects in them: there is a central thought that guides the idea, the setting, and the pose. I develop other sections by adding symbolic objects as I remember them. These areas reflect moments when editing-out is not necessary, where the subjects present themselves spontaneously and without artifice, where the idea and the image build gradually. And in other areas still, I improvise by fragmenting forms using impasto-like texture and reorder the appearance of the spaces, adding personal meaning.

Time and place have informed this work. This is my home. I live here now. The people I paint are my neighbors, family, and friends. They speak of concerns about their identities being defined for them; about engaging in culture and politics within and beyond their immediate locale; about relying on unreliable internet and cell phone towers; about their suspicions regarding news sources in general; and about pressure to piece together multiple jobs to earn a living wage. It is evident to me that there are frictions here that have resulted from pockets of great wealth within acres of poverty and shifting and aging populations, and all of this I express through ordinary objects and people, frayed cuffs and halos of light, non-traditional alignments of the pedestrian and the sublime. If I consider whether or not I have a spiritual practice, I realize it is and always has been when I paint.