What is it like to continually feel hesitation when motivated to share one’s true identity? Inspired by lighthearted encouragement from a fellow gay artist, this neon phrase advocates fearlessness. It asks everyone the questions, “Can we just be ourselves?” or “Must we constantly morph given the perceived needs and desires of others?”
Agnes Moorehead & Me
The late Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) was an accomplished actress who worked in radio, on stage, in film, and on television. During her 41-year career, she earned numerous awards and recognitions including a Primetime Emmy, two Golden Globes, and four Academy Award nominations. Her role as Endora on the television series Bewitched demonstrated her talent, yet this role was one among many that established her among the great character stars of her time. Inspired by her achievements, I created hybrid digital images by integrating her portrait with mine, and am using these new photos to model new paintings.
Observe everyday circumstances and find many dichotomies. Such is the case in the video Big Otter, which catalogues several encounters during a 2018 road trip through the Southern and Midwestern United States. In addition to examining American ideals, the work presents objects and events that on the surface seem mundane – yet, that explore the imagination of the artist given its content and arrangement. In this sense, routine observations evolve into new daydreams and fantasies.
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?
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.
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.
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.