It all started when...
Collecting is a big part of my practice and I began by collecting action figures and cartoon figurines as a kid. I was highly entranced by the invented mythologies of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Smurfs, Thundercats, Strawberry Shortcake and He-Man. I was just as interested in the graphics on the toys packaging - the color and flatness.
I come from a family of collectors. My Grandma Edie had a special cabinet that held her collections that we knew were off limits - the objects were not meant to be touched or moved. Our family collections had a special value to us - they took on the meaning of talismans or idols and were not just tchotchkes.
As I began my art career I was still collecting. Smoking a lot in college, I noticed that I had a small stockpile of cigarette boxes. "Hmm...", I thought, "I bet I could make something outta these." I started collecting more boxes and covered them with newspaper and glue - drawing directly onto them with cartoonish characters. This led toward me becoming an Art-O-Mat artist, selling my small works across the country in repurposed cigarette vending machines.
At the same time, I continued to read and collect National Geographic magazines, spurned on by a gift subscription from my Granny Pat when I was younger. I began experimenting with collage and love the imagery and quality of paper in the magazines. The compositions of the collages were and continue to be influenced by a Dadaist nonsensical style to project an absurdist and subversive viewpoint.
I also love books and libraries and feel a real sense of place when lost in the stacks. Through researching in libraries, I continually make connections for new and with past works and investigate new mythologies and folklore. As a kid I was drawn to the large globes and maps and would research foreign lands and rivers.
Rivers meander and change over time and offer a means of escape and I've always had a deep connection with them - Plus - I am a Pisces, so water just makes sense. Topographical and river floodplain maps offer a kind of simplified or flattened view and I appreciate the graphic quality of them.
I was raised to repurpose things - to use my imagination to transform and reinvigorate objects into something new. Expanding on this idea, I began to paint on various found objects - boards, cabinet panels and my Aunt's old, broken clock. In 2006, I moved to Japan and was instantly taken by the flatness, composition and color of woodcut prints and manga comics. I continued to work with collage, but now applied this to the creation of my paintings subject matter and composition.
After this, I revisited the previous idea of creating works on cigarette packs, only this time I thought, "What if I combine multiple packs to build my own flat canvasses?" These larger canvasses were covered with newspaper and glue, as with the previous incarnations, but I started to create collages to base the subject matter on and focused on subtracting elements from the collages to bring more of a focus to the figures.
Most recently, I began to work on a larger scale and focused on simplifying the structure to a single found cardboard box,combined with plastic shopping bags and covered with newspaper dipped in wheat paste. I enjoy the combination of the organic and more geometric shapes with the idea of bringing a pseudo 2D topographical map into 3D. Certain elements from collages created for these works were almost placeholders for some of the more simplified shapes.
Next up, I will continue to work in this same meandering way, combining and subtracting elements, techniques and materials. Stay tuned!