About Altered State series
Altered States began simply as unabashed expression of qualities that I responded to emotionally and viscerally: the clarity of line, richness of color, beauty that I saw in Indian miniatures, Italian medieval art, and accumulated collections of natural objects.
The central form suggests landmass, a non-specific geographic shape with the ground being multiple layers of deep velvety color. Contained within this larger form are thousands of small dots, each painted with two semi-circular strokes in gold acrylic and powdered pigment. In the process of painting these dots, over time, shapes form, figures emerge. As I add more marks these figures disappear into their neighbors, and a larger shape appears. Eventually some remain visible, but more are absorbed into the shimmering scrim of gold; hidden. I’ve done a series of diptychs that are larger than I am. As I paint I feel that I’m traveling through a series of events, moving back and forth, up and down. The smaller pieces, painted at my table, can be seen in their entirety as I work, and are more intimate. These paintings are both more intuitively and more directly executed than other work- they have less “concept” to hang their hat on, less of a conceptual middle ground between impulse and object.
As in aerial photographs, the larger forms, in closer proximity, reveal themselves to be composed of smaller shapes. In some of the work I’ve clustered the dots more densely around the edges of the landform, like a map describing the population of a country. The repetitive and the additive nature of the marks suggests the barrage of information we pass through each day. The accumulation of visual information serves as noise and stimuli. But it also allows patterns to form as the mind tries to understand what it sees. It creates order from randomness.
Recently, I’ve been interested in the Altered States series as a sort of narrative- that allows the many little figures, relationships and events that come into being to remain visible. Like in my words paintings, there are moments of recognition--“oh, that’s a word”, or “oh, that’s an amoeba”. My impulse had been to camouflage them through the addition of surrounding dots, forming a dense impenetrable surface. Right now, as a source, I’ve been drawing from three prints that I’ve had since I was a child: The Broad and Narrow Way, The Land of Make Believe, and Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.
All three have a strong moralistic viewpoint, and present choices through a journey comprised of a collection of events. Over the years I’ve tried to address them in some way, always too literally. Altered States is an asemic visual version that is much closer to my intention.
About Words and Hover series
Recent work consists of two connected bodies of paintings, Words and Hover, both painted with densely pigmented metallic paints on a velvety matte blue-black ground. Depending on the angle of the lighting and the position of the viewer, the words or shapes become more or less distinct, obscured or revealed by the light, and by the density of the marks that surround them. The metallic paint appears to be a shimmering scrim floating on the dark blackboard-like ground. These paintings use visual and written language to explore the weight and significance of intention in a mark, whether it be the deliberate information contained in lines that make up a word, or the figurative suggestions contained within the horizontal and vertical lines, and the circle. What are the boundaries of a written sign system; what happens and what does it mean when marks dissolve into meaninglessness or conversely coheres into significance. My relationship to the marks and the words moves between pleasure, dislike, neutrality, and nostalgia. Upon close reflection the viewer too can enter the surface and make associations that can range between the materiality and the sublime.
From early botanical and scientific illustration to the invention of the electron microscope there have been unimaginable advances in how closely we can see. My earlier paintings on wood explore scientific imagery: forms both animal and botanical; cells, healthy and stricken. Where the casual eye sees a drop of blood, the microscope reveals a highly patterned area of overlapping disks. Much in the way that millions of microscopic cells make up a drop of blood, random repetitions eventually coalesce into larger patterns.
My paintings are microcosms—worlds in miniature. Earlier pieces explore the landscape of the body in microscopic detail. More recent work moves from behind the microscope and hovers far above the world. Whether looking inside or out, at blood cells or land mass, my work examines the relationship between scale and pattern. Small patterns intimate the behavior of larger ones; repetition unifies.
My current work features reflective paint on paper. Because it interacts with light so explicitly, reflective paint gestures to the world beyond the painting as well as to the surface itself.
Although large, each of my paintings begins with a single stroke. I add a second and third, and these strokes join with the first to form pattern. That pattern joins a second and third to create a new, larger image which gains significance in the empty blue space. These patterns merge in ways both intentional and accidental. I suggest theme and variation but can’t control the viewer’s tendency to light on new parts, grouping them in ways impossible to predict.
In my work, the individual object exists simultaneous to the secret, beautifully patterned, moving world not perceived by the naked eye. The physical world is both as it appears and is not, for below the surface of everything lies a teeming shimmer of pattern.