CountyAnne Arundel County
Artist StatementMy work explores the question of how to reconcile harsh sociopolitical realities with my utopian vision of a just, peaceful and hopeful society. While I consider my artwork to be essentially sociopolitical, I also aim for a meaning that goes beyond any specific subject matter. I want the viewer to think about the image and be able to come to an understanding that is both personal and universal. Besides working on the more specific sociopolitical art, I also work on three other bodies of work. They are paintings of pottery, the living dead, and non-objective abstract paintings. During my investigations of sociopolitical subject matter, I came across a horrific news article about a man who was raped by solders in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For one year the D.R.C. became the focus of my work. I read about the murders, the rapes, the mutilations, and the corruption. I tried to understand how ordinary people, such as myself, could commit such atrocities. The zombies I paint are an extension of my need to understand the dark side of our selves. How can we live in a peaceful society when the possibility of violence lies just below the surface? The smiles on the zombie-like people I paint reflect my belief that it is possible to live at peace with ourselves in spite of our inner-zombie. The violence and the closeness to death that the fictional character embodies is a joke and is nothing to be feared. My small paintings of pottery are inspired by the indigenous people of an area of the D.R.C. called the Twa. The pottery of the Twa women are a sign of pride and dignity that exist in the face of the discrimination and injustice that the Twa face every day. My nonobjective “dot paintings” are also political. I see them as representative of egalitarian communities, where each dot is just as important as another. They are truly democratic compositions. They are also explorations of color interactions. I am never quite sure how the dots will interact with each other and with the color of the background. It is my intention in all my artwork is to hold harsh realities of life up to the light of imagination , and by doing so, transcend feelings of hopelessness and find a glimmer of optimism in places where violence and injustice too easily exist.
I graduated with high honors receiving a BFA from the Maryland Institute Collage of Art in 1987. I’ve been in several exhibits in the Baltimore area, including two shows at Art Scape, two shows at School 33 Art Center and an exhibit at Maryland Art Place. Outside of Baltimore I’ve exhibited in Frederick Maryland, Ohio, New York, University of Memphis and NYC.
I began taking art lessons at the local art studio when I was 21yrs. old. It wasn’t long before I started college in 1983.
In the past twenty-five years my work has gone through many periods. Right out of art school I had an exhibit of paintings and constructions using ink on wood. In 1990 I began a long series of abstract paintings resembling snakes. They were done using spray paint on bed sheets.
By working in a series, I was free to paint spontaneously without having to focus on the content of my work. Out of this experience came a work at Maryland Art Place called Water Snakes in 1994.
Drawing on my experience with installations while in school, l took the first opportunity and constructed a room size installation at a warehouse gallery in south Baltimore in 1993. It was called Mr. Garden Meets Medicine Snake. It was about how my diagnosis of having Bi-polar disorder changed my self-image from an emerging artist and amateur gardener, to a stigmatized, psychological stereotype. That same year I did another installation in Frederick, MD.
But my luck ran out as far as having more opportunities for installations. In 1994 I went back to the image of the snake and combined it with childlike drawings. These took on a psychological aspect. They have to do with a search for the inner workings of the psyche.
It wasn’t ‘till 1997 that I got another chance to do two more room installations. One was at School 33 in Baltimore and the other was at the University of Memphis.
When the events of 9/11 took place I began to explore outside of myself into the workings of society and how it conflicted with my vision of a more peaceful existence. I exhibited five pieces in a show at School 33 in 2004, but due to a long depression I did very little artwork until 2008. It was then that I started sociopolitical work .