always trying to understand
Facing Time is about life and life is about death and life/death is about time. The fourteen 12 × 12 and two 24× 24 mixed media paintings represent the progression of time. I am using the black beaded circle to represent the ever present looming nature of death. The flowers are blooming and alive in all the paintings- they are life- but they are being edged out and finally gone from the final canvas.
I do not read these sixteen paintings as sad or morbid-I read them as life-and the beauty of life-the gift of life.
The small works that complete Facing Time are a bit different in that as I looked back on the completed sixteen paintings, I started to personally identify the black circle as being fear. These pieces that followed, are darker and less joyful, and the final sculpture is an attempt to make fear an object-not a two dimensional rending, but an actual object. I elevated the objet fear onto a plinth to give fear the respect that it deserves.
In this series I ponder the fact that hovering amidst the beauty of life, is a darkness, and that darkness is death. Unlike most memento mori art works, I am not interested in the traditional symbols that are usually used to remind us that death is part of the living. The black circle does not have the narrative aspect of a skull or hour glass-the black circle is beautiful but ominous. There is no narrative related to it-the black circle belongs to the viewer.
I give no answers in my work. I share the act of the contemplation of life.
Life is a balance. Relationships are about a balance of power. Our relationship to earth is a balance between using and preserving, our personal health (physical and mental) is a balance between too much and too little. How we interact with peoples outside our national borders is a balance between inclusion and exclusion.
I am using rocks as a metaphor for elements that are in a relationship with each other. If one rock is removed the balance is destroyed- the rocks fall. I am using stone walls as a metaphor for exclusion and inclusion. Walls, whether physical or invisible, are barriers. My stone walls are not mortared. They are structures of balance. Remove one rock and envision the collapse.
I ask myself and I ask the viewer -where am I / where are you in this balance-a disrupter or a person who maintains? I ask myself and I ask the viewer where am I/where are you positioned in relation to the wall – are you included or are you excluded? Do you build walls to keep in or to keep out? Are you an includer or are you an excluder? This body of work is not answering any questions-the only absolutes presented is balance.
When is there really the now?
As soon as it is now, it is after.
The before can not reveal the now.
The after can reflect on the before and the now.
We live in the before and we live in the after.
The after is always impending.
One knows that life is tenuous. Death is always the end product of life. To live is to die. All ponderings on death are done by the living. All fear of death is felt by the living. Death is what makes life precious. The loss of someone is a loss to the living. The loss of someone is about the person left alive and the past interactions the dead person had with the living person. This series of images allows the viewer to slip into the memories of someone who has died and who has left an empty place in the viewer’s life. Memories are what the living have of the dead. Memories are what enrich the lives of the living. These images are an exploration into empty spaces, empty spaces to be filled with memories. The images range in mood which reflects the nature of memories. This series evolved from the gun violence series Considering Harm. Considering the death of individuals leaves one to ponder the loss, the empty space that this individual has left on others-the living. The loss, the empty space is what marks the death of the individual. Forget-Me-Not images start where death left off.
Look at each image. Come close and see the details. The overlays are subtle. Look with care. Read the titles. The titles are important. The titles direct one’s thoughts. A gun shoots a bullet. A bullet penetrates a surface. On August 30, 2011, 22-year-old Tameka Johnson was struck by a stray bullet while she slept with her infant child in her arms in her second floor apartment. Tameka died.
Stoning/Casting a Stone/Casting the First Stone
Did you cast a stone today?
This series is about naming. There are 49 drawings of stones. They are colorful, stones that are piled/leaning/standing in a visually pleasing manner. They are not threatening stones. But the name of the series is stoning/casting a stone/casting the first stone. The act of naming changes these drawings. Feel the smooth cool surface of any one of these stones. Could you cast this stone, have you cast a stone? All has changed.
This work bids the viewer to consider structure and placement and one’s relationship to a wall or fence-physically/conceptually/politically. A barrier to one person may be a means of protection to another. The purpose of this work is to bring attention to the barriers that persons must climb (figuratively and actually) everyday in order to share in the American dream.
Road Shrines: A Peripheral Blur
My project, Road Shrines: A Peripheral Blur, is based on photographs of road shrines located in New Jersey.
These images are the result of my conscious effort to make works that immortalize the shrines. This has been an interesting, convoluted process: to celebrate the object that is itself a celebration. The art cannot be/is not a celebration of the person killed, since other than what the shrine provides, I had no insight into that person or the accident when I was making the images. I only had the visual efforts of someone who marked the spot so to celebrated someone’s life/death. It is from this space that I began my project.
This art work creates a dialogue with ordinary people. We all become ordinary people when in grief. This project creates a dialogue charged by the leveling nature of grief.
Road shrines are on most highways in New Jersey. One may or may not take note of them. This project acknowledges the existence of these shrines and acknowledges the importance of each one to someone. This project explores the pain of loss. One must acknowledge the fact that someone felt compelled to erect the shrine on the place of death. This project asks the viewer to stop and listen to the silent scream of their fellow earth mate.
In part the impact of the exhibition of Road Shrines: A Peripheral Blur is created by the tension felt in the gallery as the art is viewed. These images center on someone else’s personal tragedy – a tragedy that is random in nature and can/could belong to anyone.
This work was funded through a grant from the Puffin Foundation
The Space in Between
These small process intense pieces are part of a series that is not intended as a voyeuristic look at death, but instead is meant to initiate an examination of the inherent responsibility that goes with existing. This series is an exploration of the gap between the concept of the act and the act.
Each piece is generated from snapshots of dead animals (and the scene) that I have taken on my way to anywhere. The photos are manipulated digitally, printed, cut, stitched and adorned. The format is always a controlled multi-repeated rectangle, confining the image to a neat little space.
The work explores many different issues. Among which are: the use of technology to generate the work (from the killing to the photographing), the ability of art to quietly evoke visual memories, the juxtaposition of the uncontrolled and the controlled in living, the blurring of the boundaries between the serious and the trite.
This series is about action-time-space and the in between-where the action is realized-before the result is experienced. Passed events inform the images, metaphorically and concretely. Mixed media constructs the physical reality of the images; mixed memories allow the images to have meaning. This body of work is not about one issue. This work is multi layered. One must look past the obvious.
Contemplate the space in between.