The profusion and power of the natural world and our collisions with it have long been at the heart of my painting and mixed-media work—the tenacity of weeds, the exuberant waiting of wild things to overtake the human-made world. I often use pre-existing images as grounds: laser prints of photos, magazine and book pages, found pictures. I might bury these images, but I feel their pulse, their call-and-response with the paint. The picture plane is frequently in flux and the images may be a slow burn, but they are always the provocation for the brushstrokes around and over them: accidental iPhone photos and raindrops on a feather ("A Weed Can Crack the Sidewalk"), a river crashing through fluorescent light reflections ("Upstream"), an auto-wrecking yard and a Mars Rover ("The History of the World"), warehouse skylight cutouts juggled in a riot of plant and insect life (“Bug Boogie”), bottles pouring frozen beer into an urban hedge ("Down Pour"). Early in lockdown I painted “kkCorona” over a collage of found, broken objects, not realizing that the palette matched news graphics of the virus—a less beautiful nature takeover.
The "Pandemic Cemetery" series originated during the COVID-19 lockdown. I live in walking distance of Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, and drawing there with another painter, masked and distanced, created a sense of freedom in a compressed situation. Pencils, colored pencils, charcoal, pastels, ink, markers, crayons—the contents of all the coffee cans in my studio came into play, along with ideas about memory, legacy, death. How we will look back on this time, and how it will change us.
The works on tracing paper explore hybrids of form and material, sometimes using both sides of the vellum to exploit its transparency and the response of the crunchy paper to the mediums. The individual parts, including found objects and varieties of mixed media, reassemble into a more fantastical form.
The “Books” series has woven through my studio life, reflecting my attraction to found materials as well as thoughts about the book as record. The pieces have become something of a journal—fired clay from a Philadelphia clay studio, scrap wood collected while scrounging around the not-yet-gentrified Lower East Side, found objects from the NYC streets. My ongoing immersion in collage and mixed media finds its most solid expression in these pieces. Many of the titles play with my affection for years of paperbacks I cannot part with.
“The Corpses” is an ongoing collaborative collage series with poet Ian Ganassi, who I met when we were artists in residence at the Millay Colony. The series is a convergence of text, drawing, painting, and found objects that we've been mailing back and forth between NYC and New Haven, Connecticut, since 2005. To date, there are more than 300 finished pieces, with work-in-progress often in transit. (Website link in categories list.)
It's all material. Working in the studio in tandem with pre-existing images and found objects transforms the world into material. Always in view—no matter the media—is that click of significance, when some thing becomes something entirely else: Richard Dreyfuss shaping mashed potatoes in Close Encounters, insisting, “This means something.”