My work is concerned with the theme of balance between binary poles. My work examines the tension between opposites in both the substantive thematic territory of my work and its formal aspects. My work examines moments of transition in order to freeze them so they can be analyzed.
My work is neither entirely classical nor entirely contemporary; neither entirely realistic nor entirely fantastical; neither entirely familiar nor entirely alien. I am interested in the balance between old and new, comfortable and uncomfortable, safe and unsafe.
The paintings appear to be mannered and removed. However, they are in fact intensely autobiographical.
The paintings deal quite explicitly with secrets from my own Southern Gothic childhood in small-town, lower-middle class Kentucky. I chose to paint in a style that quotes Flemish painting and nineteenth-century society portraiture so that no one depicted in my paintings would ever suspect these paintings were about them. This tension between the distant and the deeply personal, between discretion and confession, is another example of the theme of balance in my work.
My work deals with the fragility of childhood and life. Though the imagery appears traditional, figurative and narrative, the true work is actually a personal life history in the process of development. My paintings are records of the act of observing my own three children and seeing the individual spirit emerge and search for an extension of childhood and adolescence with a little extra time for self-exploration and self-definition. The paintings are artifacts from the beautiful, better world my children have actively created in real-time. Thus, the paintings balance between traditional and contemporary notions of the role of figurative painting and challenge notions of where the “art” actually is located.
The balance between binary poles in my work is not limited only to the substantive themes, but extends to the medium itself. On the one hand, the paintings appear to be traditional, two-dimensional paintings rendered in a highly classical style. However, in fact, they are filled with experiments that challenge notions of what two-dimensional painting is.
My work is filled with false craquelure. These are of course not actually cracks but lines that look like cracks. Some of them are achieved by hand, but others are achieved with a technique that I devised. After the painting is completed, I smear it with a layer of beeswax. I then use dental tools to scratch the surface in a pattern that perfectly mimics how Renaissance paintings crack with age. I then quickly press pigment into where the cracks were, which seeps down and stains the painting underneath in those patterns. Finally, I melt off the beeswax with a hairdryer, leaving only the lines of pigment arranged in the pattern of the cracks. The purpose of this experiment with the medium is to quite violently throw viewer expectations hurtling back in time so that the painting on
passing glance looks old and familiar. Then I throw viewer expectations hurtling forward with subject matter that is contemporary, psychological, and highly autobiographical.
These active engagements with notions of time are another way that my work balances between old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, comfortable and uncomfortable.