My life is a ‘Constructed Arrangement’ built from the various pieces of past experiences, events, things learned and mistakes made. My life is the raw material for my art and painting, my senses reacting to real phenomena, sights and sounds, translating and processing them from conscious observation into the cognitive realm of the deeper mind and then again into visual expressive images of art. My artwork provides me a needed place to channel this energy and a wide range of accompanying emotions. There is joy and certainly wonder, but there is also a tremendous amount of anger and rage. Somehow, the last part of that equation, those darker emotions, are not revealed in any overt manner in my work but are instead washed away. My paintings are rarely, if ever, of disturbing, violent or angry images. In fact, the exact opposite seems to take place. That is why I’m fascinated by organisms like the beetle or butterfly, creatures that undergo a complete metamorphic change. I see that kind of transformation in my own life and work, how even from a bleak and despairing mindset, brightly colored canvases and swirling patterns can and do emerge.
In these ‘Constructed Arrangements’ I am assembling into larger structures singular paintings from the diverse individual groups of paintings on which I work. Symbolic representation is used throughout and I willfully usurp any residual, culturally inherited power invested in the objects or images I paint. I am also investing into what I paint a level of personal and private satisfaction that leaves me feeling good at the end of the day when I look at what I’ve accomplished.
Overlapping, trailing or twinning about each other in ever changeable arrangements my ‘Constructions’ are amorphous, yet linked together in ‘chains’ inspired by the molecular structure of RNA and the helical coil of DNA. Limited only by the volume of space they inhabit, within this context individual paintings become subunits within the larger structure, subject as are RNA and DNA, to a continual process of mutation resulting, in this instance, from substitutions made with paintings, patterns and in organizational composition.
This mutability is enormously important to me because it provides me an opportunity to see, observe and think about my work in changing and expanding spaces and contexts. As a result of this process, an artistic ‘evolutionary’ change occurs both within any subsequent ‘Constructed Arrangement’ and in the individual series the paintings have initially found placement within. Writing about this process helps me to unravel these chains, observe my own impulses and thoughts surrounding my work, in a move towards self-clarity and an increased approachability and deeper comprehension of my art and its biological leanings.
“Story telling” as philosopher Hannah Arendt says “reveals meaning without committing to the error of defining it.” I am telling a story in my work and then searching out revelatory meaning using language and the written word. There is a degree of fear in committing the error Arendt speaks of in defining what is my story. Linking visual image to written word, asking myself those questions pertaining to meaning, I am in some sense acting in a counterbalance to the shifting of weight and interpretive power that naturally flows to those who look at my work. I am subject to this same unavoidable process when I look at the work of other artists so I choose not to fight, but appreciate the interpretive power others may gain as they look at my art through the lenses of their own senses fashioned from unique sets of experiences. As the writer Anais Nin wrote, “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Embracing this viewpoint as I understand it, I also find a degree of satisfaction working with potential clients in the creation of customized ‘Constructed Arrangements’ for their homes or office spaces. By inviting that kind of involvement, allowing patrons to flex their own creative muscle through the selection of colors, canvas and images, a sort of symbiosis takes place and the final composition reflects their internal landscape as well as mine.
I find all of this to be a preferable form of visual transaction, this proverbial ‘coin toss of meaning and structure.’ This one-on-one interaction of artist and patron is one I feel to be ultimately more rewarding than one gained by allowing the artistic elite and institutions of the world to place themselves in the position of mediator. In my observation, there is an ensuing rhetoric inherent in that kind of arrangement. A subsequent objectification and commodification occurs with the institution and elite struggling to assert control by encapsulating what I think and feel in the creation of my work, defining my works value and relevance and dictating how others should then perceive it.
Truly, I am nothing new and make no claim to be; no artist, no-one, nor anything is really. Life has been interpreting, interacting, recirculating, maintaining and changing most of the material existing in the both the atmosphere and supra-crustal section of the Earth for over eighty percent of this planet’s history. Over the course of the last 2,500 years, humanity has struggled with questions of who we are, where we are headed and the nature of this reality in which we find ourselves through the use of myth, story and science. Art functions in much the same way, simply extending the scope of the human being and is always open to new interpretation, theory and understanding even if it is only directed towards self and then internalized.
Folklorist Alan Garner has written, “Myth is not entertainment, but rather the crystallization of experience. And far from being escapist literature, fantasy is an intensification of reality.” In this light, creation myths, folk and fairy tales, novels, televised sitcoms, articles in newspapers, talk shows and blogs, obituaries, instruction manuals, Facebook postings, magazine articles, vacation or weekend plans, phone calls and text messages, how I feel when I get up in the morning, what I think about lying awake in bed at night, are then the stories that make my world and inform my art and painting. None of these things are ever about opting out of the world, but living more completely in it and they are channeled and translated into my work.
In my life, as a general rule points of harmony are important to me, the harmonious nature of my paintings with each other and the degree to which I experience that with my art reflects that fact. Culturally, I often find myself drawn explicably towards icons of sports, fashion, entertainment and the arts. Not existing alone in this orbit, I experience a confluence of commonality with others somehow more tangible than that sought or found solely within any philosophical frameworks of spiritual enlightenment which seems to be, at least for me, much more independent, unique and personal.
Threaded through my work, there is a reaction to the changes that have occurred as society and culture have become increasingly pluralistic. The loosening confines of region have helped fray the threads of common cultural memory rooted in dominant race, language or religion; a fact that seems clearly evident to me in the melting pot nature of the United States. Unopposed to this, I find myself reorganized as many others into non-exclusive communities formed more of desires, dreams, likes and dislikes. Left to invent in the wake, the conditions and parameters of my own civility, I strive to balance through my art my very modern concerns regarding how things ‘really’ are and what ‘actually’ happens, with a postmodern appreciation and focus on what things ‘may’ mean.
Endlessly interconnected on multiple levels and various ways to others and the world, I strive to harmonize my life with reality without losing touch with the inner mysteries of existence worked out over the course of millennium and used as guideposts by my ancestors from around the world. Flickering on the edge of mysticism, the myths that fill my internal and external world are inseparable from my ritual of painting. None of these, my art, my words, these myths, are stories entirely for their own sake, but point instead to ways I want to act or behave and to those things which I want to actualize in my life. I am a meaning seeking creature and fall easily into depression and despair and all of this speaks to me of another plane of existence that supports me in the one in which I now find myself.
My ‘Constructed Arrangements’ provide me a forum in which I can orient my life in a larger setting using the tools of art, myth, story and, against all the chaotic evidence to the contrary, give it meaning and value. The journaling I do as a result of making art is an added distillation as I search for my own deeper meanings in process and result. The conjoining meanings, viewpoints and sensibilities are understandably subject to reinterpretation, recirculation and change as I set them loose in the world. In my quest for self-realization I am constantly searching my own parameters in the realizing of my inherent potentialities and the resultant visual works, words and arrangements are an opening of a window into my inner life.