Tools to Change Society
1. None of your straight lines are straight, nor your curved lines symmetrically curved. Do you have a conscious purpose in this? If so, what?
A. Just because a line appears straight does not mean it actually is, and the same with a line that appears curved. I paint not just what I see, but what I imagine that something could be. If every image were expressed on paper as it actually appears, art would have no purpose. Even if I am working from a reference, I utilize my imagination constantly while creating art. I don't want to limit myself to what actually “seems to be”. Art is more fun that way. Life is more fun that way.
2. What observations do you have on the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock?
A. Whether or not one is a fan of Pollock's work, I don't think that there is any argument that he was an extremely important figure in the abstract expressionist movement, and a revolutionary for his type of work at the time. Personally, I like Pollock's work, and I find its spontaneity exciting. Even though we utilize the technique in very different ways, Pollock's and my work both utilizes “drip” painting, although he dripped directly onto a flat canvas, and I oftentimes stand my canvases upright and add water to my paints in order to let the paint flow freely. Regardless, we both believed in allowing the paint to choose it's own path.
3. Are you consciously trying to achieve anything when you are completing a work?
A. When I am working on a piece, I suppose my ultimate goal is to reach a point where I can step back and feel personally that it is a completed work. This occurs as more of a feeling than a visual registration for me. I want my eyes to be able to enter the piece, travel through the lines and colors, and in doing so experience some type of emotion, whether it be excitement, satisfaction, wonderment, or melancholy. Not everyone is going to experience the same emotion from a piece of work, and actually, it is very rare that it would affect two viewers in the same way. By creating a colorful and somewhat amorphous image, I want to open up different channels of emotions and present the opportunity for different ideas to form, not tell you, the on-looker, what you should be thinking.
4. How were you first exposed to the ideas of Carl Jung?
A. My exposure to Jung's work was limited to surface introductions of his ideas in psychology classes during my undergraduate career, and my own light dabbling in research on the subject. However, I have come to realize that even if I am not consciously including archetypal images in my paintings or sketches, that does not mean that they don't exist within my work. Creating art awakens a myriad of different emotions for me, and therefore it would be impossible not to include feelings that are emanating from my subconscious in my work.. it is a baring of one's soul. While taking a look at my work, author Skip Conover pointed out dozens of archetypes that I didn't even know existed within it, which further proves how differently art effects us as individuals and how different archetypes become “constellated” as a result of each person's individual experiences and ideals.
5. Do you consciously use Jung's ideas of archetype or the collective unconscious in your work? In so doing, are you trying to be deliberately provocative? Please explain how these ideas are important to you in your work.
A. I wish I could claim to be that intellectually tuned-in to the emotions that cause me to paint the way that I do. All I can say is that I love to create work that is visually pleasing, or exciting, or provocative, but as I said, I don't want to tell you why to feel that way when you are looking at a piece of my work. I painted the 40” x 30” work “View from the Rialto Bridge-- Venice, Italy” over six months ago, and I still discover new images and figures within the painting that I had somehow glossed over before-- even while creating it. In that way, my work creates itself, while I simply hold the brushes and do the clean-up.
6. What is the message of "When Audrey Hepburn Drinks too much?" Is the title deliberately provocative and as such a part of the piece? What do you feel is the role of a title in a painting?
A. When my work was more figurative, I used to pride myself on creating titles for my work that offered a vague explanation while encouraging the viewer to create a character and story for the figure, as in “Bill's first wife, Betsy, on their wedding day”. By creating this painting and choosing it's title, I have now told you and showed you that Betsy is a bride and it is her wedding day, but now I want you to consider why she is gazing so unhappily into the mirror on what is supposed to be the best day of her life. Is this before the wedding? Who is to be blamed for the demise of their marriage? And most curious of all, why is she his FIRST wife-- what happens to her later?
“When Audrey Hepburn drinks too much” presents the viewer with an image of a woman in a red dress and high heels sprawled on the ground and an explanation of why she is possibly there, but I want you to consider why and how she has gotten to this point in her life. You, as the viewer, can make her story as fun, or pathetic, or even as sick as you want it to be. I'm only presenting you with “once upon a time” and from there your imagination creates her destiny.
7. "Untitled Tree" seems to use the archetypal theme of a tree in a field. What does the archetype mean to you? Or do you, like other artists, think that meaning should be in the eye of the beholder? Did you consciously paint it knowing that it is a theme crossing all cultures?
A. This is the first time I have taken on the subject matter of the archetypal lone tree in the field. Ironically, I was painting this image from my second story balcony in downtown Denver, Colorado, so the tree was in no way a loner; in fact it was surrounded by many tree friends, shrubs, apartment buildings, cars, and someone walked beneath it's limbs at least every thirty seconds (this same view of the neighborhood was what inspired “The Wide Weird World Beneath My Balcony”, which is a very different piece).
The tree as an archetype symbolizes the source of man's primal needs, such as food and shelter, strong roots to remain steadfast and sprawling branches that reach out to the sun. It is serene and divine; the leaves twist and turn in the wind and the light dances delicately on it's leaves. I suppose on this particular occasion I was drawn to the light or the strength or the color of the tree, and instead of dictating the tree as part of a story, it became it's own entity.
8. "The Wide Weird World Beneath My Balcony" seemed an immediate reference to James Thurber's "House and Woman" [@ P. 30]. Was this intentional? How do you react to this question? Why?
A. I had never had the pleasure of experiencing “House and Woman” before creating this piece, and I thank Skip Conover for introducing me to it. Even as a “grown up”, this image is disturbing to me, but I think it is less the image of the woman merging with the house that bothers me as it is her furrowed brow and the shrinking defeat of the tiny figure who is considering entering it's front door. No, I was not making an intentional reference to “House and Woman” when I was creating “The Wide Weird World Beneath My Balcony”, but I find that the make-up of buildings (especially Victorian houses) causes them to resemble faces, with their vacant staring windows, bleary-eyed shutters and thick window frames, like heavy, drooping eyelids.
9. In "Rocky Mountain Hike," were the swimmer (or angel) in the clouds and the face on the back of the hiker intentional?
I had no idea that I was painting a swimmer or an angel or half of one of those silhouettes that can be either a face or half of a vase. However, that doesn't mean that none of these were intentional. As I said, I wish I could take more credit but much of the time I feel that my paintings create themselves and I am only there to assist.
10. "Revisiting 'The Vampire". The vampire is one of the most deeply archetypal images and ideas in all of art. What does it mean to you? Why a reference to Munch and not your completely unique take on the topic?
A. I've always been extremely taken with the work of Munch, especially after seeing “Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety and Myth” at the Art Institute of Chicago during my undergraduate studies. Munch's work is eerie and distressing, but for me it was agitating in a way that made me want to paint and paint, and I think this exhibit especially has helped me develop my style into what it has become. Several years ago I was asked to create a commissioned piece of something vampirical (the archetype of the vampire is not so unnerving to everyone, Skip-- some people want it hanging in their homes) and I took this opportunity to venture over to the dark side and create a reference to Munch's “Vampire” while using my unique style.
11. "Priest at the Samiba Cathedral" is filled with phallic symbols. Is this a political commentary?
A. I can see why you would ask such a question, and while it would make perfect sense to have taken a painting of a Catholic church in that direction, it was actually entirely the opposite. I took the photograph that I used as a reference for this painting while in Tbilisi in the country of Georgia, an Eastern European country that has a tumultuous history of war, destruction and poverty. In 2008, Tbilisi received multiple air attacks from Russia, and only since then has begun rebuilding the capital city.
We hiked several miles through the city, which was beautiful despite its crumbling facades (or perhaps because of them) to the Samiba Cathedral, which was located at what seemed to be the highest point of the city. It was golden and light, smooth and vast, all without being sterile. As we were clearly outsiders, our little group had drawn stares while hiking through the city, but at the cathedral we were of no more or less importance than anyone else. A Georgian soldier in full uniform prayed outside the main entrance, and a black-garbed priest bowed his head in the middle of the vast golden courtyard above the city. This painting is about peace in the midst of turmoil, and of hope in the aftermath of destruction.
12. "Kenya" could as easily have been called "Motherhood," to include the apparent faces in the ends of the buildings. Even the trees in the distance evoke motherhood. Red is also a color that evokes both life and death. How much of this comes from your conscious mind? How much from your subconscious? And, of course, how much is my projection onto your art?
A. This piece was a commission requested by the parents of a 19-year-old humanitarian college student named Nora, who has spent several months over the last two summers doing volunteer work in Kenya. After her first experience there, she was so moved by the graciousness of the Kenyan people she had worked with, that she dedicated her next summer to building houses and teaching once again. Nora's parents wanted me to create a painting that reminded her of the school grounds that she worked at, and the children that she worked with. In addition, I wanted to create a painting that symbolized the difference that one individual can make on the world by being gutsy enough to not accept that one small person can't be a vessel for change. I wouldn't say that I was attempting to evoke the archetype of “motherhood”, but instead of humanity at it's best.
13. "Girl at a Window" evokes the idea that women are blocked from life by patriarchy. Even the window pain only allows the model to see life through the phallic symbols. At the same time there seems to be reference to lots more. Would you care to comment?
A. I don't think that all women are blocked from life by patriarchy, as I am a strong woman who has never let a man get in her way. I am an artist, I run my own business selling my work, and I am proud to say that I know how to change my own oil (something my father insisted on teaching me how to do). I believe in equal opportunities regardless of gender, or anything else, for that matter. “Girl at a Window” is less a social commentary on gender roles and how they may hold one down, as to how one's own insecurities can be the greatest burden on living a happy, successful, and adventurous life.
14. Some artists paint like a photo, but you do not. Please comment on this.
A. At one point in my life as an artist, I used to “paint like a photo”, and I was pretty good at it. If you've read my artists statement, you'll know a bit about how working in such a detailed and meticulous fashion eventually led to my loss of interest in creating art. It became work for me instead of something that I enjoyed doing, and I allowed other things in my life to take the place of being creative-- I just couldn't bring myself to do it anymore. I was frustrated. It was eventually this frustration that encouraged me to start working in the free-looping, no-boundaries style that I have developed over the last several years. An idea comes to me, and while I hold the tools and squeeze the tubes of paint, I allow the painting to create itself. I water down my acrylics and allow the paints to drip and pool freely, and however the piece turns out-- well, I feel that it was always meant to be that way.