The contrast between ostracism and acceptance is compelling, especially as it relates to our own human experiences. Many would say the two situations cannot be reconciled. Yet, is it possible to create artistic metaphors that turn tension into harmony? The repetitive process of sewing creek stones into vintage lavender velvet attempts to answer this question. It marries that which is mundane with something more lavish, even expensive. As well, the labor inherent within the process represents a lengthy (if not impossible) quest for reconciliation. Finally, the lavender hue of the fabric reinforces a connection both to positive and to negative aspects of LGBTQ history and culture.
I Love To Hate You
What does it mean to concurrently love and hate something? To experience physical and emotional attraction and repulsion at the same time? How is it confusing to be affirmed and reviled? This disorienting state of affairs embodies the artworks in the installation I Love To Hate You: The Antidote, Yesterday’s 30, and Trapped.
Targets and Trophies
Targets and Trophies investigates gay culture as an ongoing target of discrimination and violence. This symbol – the target – triggers both excitement and apprehension, an unpredictable emotional shift defined by distinct opportunities and circumstances. The trophy is a symbol of success – one used to impress others, to show harmony and normalcy. Yet, these mementos often demonstrate idiosyncratic tendencies that defy expectation and challenge stereotypes. The artwork also investigates: Whose shoulders do I stand on? How have others enabled my existence and experience in time and space? How has the history of our community evolved? And, how does this history – my knowledge of people and events – create more questions, more conflicting narratives of accomplishment and defeat?
Part of the Targets and Trophies installation, Dream features both the 2016 sculpture How Can One Change Oneself? (see below) and the 1948 musical composition Dream by John Cage. The figure, presented stoically in the tradition of formal portraiture, remains motionless as the natural background slowly shifts behind it. The red metallic target on its chest introduces an uneasy predicament for the form – a condition that stands in contrast to Cage’s peaceful melody.
Pomp develops an inquiry regarding the male power pose, questioning what traditions and traits define masculinity. Integrating appropriated photography featuring both the artist as well as men and women from popular magazines, the artwork presents an idealized form alongside a broad spectrum of gender realities – and, in doing so, asks where convention and reality meet.
An homage to the artwork by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov by the same name, How Can One Change Oneself? seeks to answer this very question. Within the context of my art practice, it addresses this question as it relates to gender identity and sexual orientation. The sculpture rests idly on a collection of aging sheet music, a suggestion of how time and setting affect our lives. The figure also presents an impossible opportunity to remove and implement the gear itself – to fly away and escape from ceaseless oppression and judgment.
Grand Slam addresses issues of identity by appropriating photography in a way that creates an artificial environment. The silkscreens’ repetitive forms and colorful compositions replay popular cultural themes, such as camp. And, what is more campy than the Victoria Secret Fashion Show? Only, within this context, roles change with the addition of a few muscly baseball players. In this situation, who will garner the most attention? It all depends on the viewer’s perspective.
As lawmakers repeatedly debate gender identity and bathroom access, Bathrooms demonstrates the banal nature of the facilities themselves – and, in so doing, advocates for the end of legalized discrimination against the transgender community. Filmed in Super 8 and then digitized, this artwork presents the everyday as its frame – an approach that emphasizes the complication and adversity that bathroom bills create on a daily basis for transgender people.
I Am Superman
The two artworks I Am Superman and I Am A Princess hang as a diptych. The pieces continue experimentation with staged photography by lacing images of the artist modeling Clark Kent and Cinderella masks in a mirror. These idealized and popularized male and female forms have a relationship with the magazine strips that also exist within. The strips show different human poses from advertisements. Together, the elements describe a continuum of gender roles, defying any conventional overlay that might exist for the viewer.
With the New Freedom series (see below), photographs lay in strips that are evenly spaced on the surfaces of the works. This method allows the appropriated photo reproductions and the paint to interact with one another. In Castigate, these methods extended via oversized staged photography that scaled to the size of the canvas. Each scaled photograph manifests a cultural reprimand – an exclusion – that exists for the LGBTQ community. As such, these three artworks advocate for fairness and equality for all.
The New Freedom series reintroduced representational forms within my work. With two familiar images from my past – that of a stuffed animal (Bambi) and of a hunter – two conflicting narratives about the “sport” display from a common perspective. Additionally, the influence of color and scale introduce a more surreal habitat and, hence, a more pop-inspired overlay. At 96-by-150 inches, the largest piece in this series – Olly Olly Oxen Free – combines expressionist painting with my own baby photos, a method that emphasizes how personal histories affect perspectives.
The Hearts in Geometric series (see below) inspired this collection of artwork, this time using shredded reproductions of my birth certificate. Using a similar process in the Birth Certificate series, I painted panels and then covered each with new shreds, each imprinted with a small section of this personal document. The artwork in this series not only references my own identity, but also explores the complex optic relationships that occur when color and contrast shift.
Hearts In Geometric V
The Hearts in Geometric series addressed geometric abstraction via layered mixed-media collages. The foundations for these works are reproductions of family photographs and sketches of human hearts – a way of introducing history and circumstance within. A layer of paint and a web of diamond-shred paper pieces camouflage this from the viewer. The repetitive nature of the collage addresses the cadence of time, as well as what we choose to share with and hide from others.
With Hearts, three sculptures mirror the two-dimensional human heart stencil that repetitively marks the surface of the collage Goodbye in black. Constructed of scrap metal coil, these artworks hang from oak trees and seamlessly extend the color and texture of the bark. Despite their large scale, the sculptures have a delicate, graceful presence that silently demonstrates ephemerality.
Considered the final project of the Tribute series (see below), this mixed-media collage cloaks a portrait of my mother that lies beneath shreds of her personal documents. All of this sits below a final layer of human heart stencils – a pattern created using black acrylic paint. Although the process of creating this piece began in 2011, it resolved in 2013 – a period of time that encompassed this life transition.
Tribute is a series of mixed-media collages featuring paper fragments from lapsed documents my mother had collected for many years. These works express sorrow for her passing, which occurred during the fall of the previous year.