Collage has always been at the center of my creative work. I began by accident or twist of fate, with a pile of magazines and a pair of little pink scissors. A fun project to do something crafty turned into a passion for what I call the “joy of juxtaposition.”
I had been writing since I was very young and always identified with poets and artists, but until then my expressions were mainly poetic. My Dad was an auto factory worker who’d wanted to be a minister and my Mom was a florist. Both encouraged my writing but weren’t expecting me to become obsessed with making pictures.
Working in the square foot format liberates me to explore old fashioned cut and paste collage while experimenting with as many other media as possible, including graphite, pastel, acrylic and spray paints, glitter glue, metallic leaf, chalk, pencil crayons and more. The compact uniform size allows me to try different approaches in a timely way that can be easily stored and transported to exhibit. The unexpected narratives and suggested stories that appear are an act of chance, or of fate; each piece is an unplanned collision of memory, imagination, and fabrication.
I create surreal or poetic vignettes with an urban or street vibe, as well as abstract works that juxtapose with beauty or elegance. I also create collage-painting portraits of interesting people whose complex stories appeal to me: Josephine Baker, Winston Churchill, Kanye West, Marilyn Monroe, writers like Oscar Wilde and Philip Larkin.
My goal is to push the concept of collage in as many directions as possible. I work on paper in spare, torn abstraction. I work in heavy layers of imagery and media on canvas, peeling back and pulling off or wiping away. I use recognizable imagery and put them together to create vignettes, or experiment with aesthetics, or surrealist or poetic narratives.
My range of inspirations and subjects is a medley of unrelated and interrelated flotsam and jetsam. Pop culture is a mainstay, but so are more cerebral elements of culture, like literature, art history and history. The religious imagination, from a blended reverent and irreverent perspective, makes a regular appearance. Mythology.
I’m inspired by Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell, Robert Motherwell and Antoni Tapies, Appropriating relentlessly from art history, advertising, music, poetry, fiction, culture, religion, and travel, I plunder everything to make it entirely my own.
The rhythms of music are infused in my works along with my travels and people and cultures I experience. While there’s great hope and gratitude and humor in my work, my dark side is ever present.
Family dysfunction, abuse, addiction, and grief are part of my story even if I prefer to emphasize life and beauty. Color too is central as is collage. By taking colors that traditionally “don’t go together” I try to make them dance or show them as interesting in their own right.
I love forcing difficult combinations into submission while celebrating favorites.
I also do custom portraits in the square foot style that are “All About You.” Mind the Gap is an example of a custom portrait I did of a Kentucky man named Daniel.
I am most passionate about art history. I’ve been reading and looking at every kind of art from all over the world since I could crawl. Images from paintings or photography always drew me in. Art history is the history of everything, not just about style or aesthetics, color theory, perspective or movements; it’s about philosophy, world cultures, religion, politics, history, psychology, literature, fashion, mythology, and so much more. It’s also the history of extraordinary, eccentric, and unusual characters. That romance has always moved me. Next to making art, I love writing about art.
I have greedily consumed much art through books, galleries, museums. I have a 2000 bachelor degree in applied arts in journalism from Ryerson University. I then thought that I should study something practical with my writing, but instead, I happily, really went way off course with those scissors, fashion magazines, and a glue stick.
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