YOU CAN’T JUST DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND
SCHOOL 33, BALTIMORE, MD. APRIL 28 – JUNE 17, 2017
CAN YOU DISCUSS THE MEANING BEHIND THE TITLE OF THE SHOW?
The whole show came at a major turning point in my life. I had come to a point where I thought I had developed what my work is, my studio practice, my job, I thought I had an idea of what I was going to be and what I was going to do and then something comes up and changes those ideas. I had to re establish a new normal, You Can’t Just Draw a Line in the Sand references the need to be fluid in these situations and then realizing that maybe the line needs to be broken or redrawn. This show was at a time when I was re assessing my life. It was a time of extreme change, so this show was me trying to figure out how to deal with that and what that line means now. Having the exhibition scheduled really got me out of a rut, this show became a good source of figuring out how to put value back into myself and realizing that value is specific to me, even though a lot of the time I equate my self worth to how I am existing with other people.
IS ALL OF THIS WORK NEW FOR THIS SHOW AND/OR WAS IT MADE FOR THIS SPACE?
I bounce back and forth between painting and sculpture, for the last few years paintings have only been able to hold my attention for a short amount of time. For me, I will be painting and then get drawn back into creating sculpture. Last year I had a show at Savery gallery with Nicole Dyer in Philadelphia and that was the first time in a while that I got really excited about painting again. I gave myself permission to tone everything down. In my life and work, over-indulgence is real, it pretty much permeates everything I do, and with these paintings I learned to pare things down just enough to tell a specific story, with only the necessary components.
Recently I started drawing a lot more and getting excited about reinterpreting Matisse’s pink nude as a self portrait, using that figure to talk about a larger narrative within the paintings. So this work is all new for this space.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WAYS YOU CHOSE TO ARRANGE AND MODIFY THE SPACE FOR THE SHOW?
With my installations the things that I try to work towards is creating a space that viewers need to enter and forcing them to deal with what is presented. With paintings it is easy to just walk by if it doesn’t grab you right away. With this space I was excited to make an immersive place that was specific to this one individual. The site-specific part is called Some People Love the Beach but Hate the Ocean, You Gotta Do it Your Way. It’s a narrative about this character that has created a space for himself that is obviously an interior, in a home somewhere. It was about creating an ideal space while I was learning what my new normal was, he is doing that within the confines of his own space.
Figuring out exactly what that is to me, because it’s very different for everyone, was interesting. Some things in there relate to me personally. I asked myself, when I am dealing with issues, where do I go, what do I do to recharge. Where do I run to when I need a break? The photos are from a couple trips I have taken over the last six months, when I ran away to figure things out. It definitely was a little intimidating to include photographs in a work, I had never used any digital media before in a working relationship with any painting or sculpture. For the character this is a physical space he made, his own utopia, but for me, making this was a real mental journey.
WHEN MAKING YOU WORK HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT FORM OR MEDIUM AN IDEA WILL TAKE? FOR EXAMPLE, PAINTING VS SCULPTURE?
I think it all boils down to what that idea needs; if I couldn’t paint or draw it exactly how I would want to, I’ll make it. Or if I just want to build it rather than represent it, then it will dictate itself as sculpture. My technical skill level determines a lot of the processes, which for a while was something stressful for me, but have come to find the freedom within it. With the paintings a lot of the work is figured out in drawing. I know how to make these paintings for the most part, so the drawing process is really where the work happens, where things get hashed out.
There is a freedom to play with space in the paintings because the sculpture is very much about recreating a known space or a known thing. Painting can allow for more freedom in some aspects, where as sculpture can be more freeing for me in different ways. It’s all about that moment and what the idea needs.
HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT ANIMALS IN YOUR WORK?
The cats often have human characteristics, and they are stand-ins for people. I think cats doing things that people often do highlights the ridiculousness of that action as humans do it. Whether it’s doing something you know you are not allowed to do, creating your own public identity or competing, etc. humans do some weird things. Domesticated animals don’t really have any human aspects, but sometimes it seems like they mimic our behaviors pretty spot on. I love cats, and I love dogs, and I love people. Like making figurative work, it’s just one of those things that feels right, like something we need in our lives, something I always get drawn back to. What is that saying about not trusting a person who doesn’t like dogs, or if a dog doesn’t trust a person that’s a sign? I agree with that, and also am wary of people who tell me they don’t like cats.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO INSTALL THE SHOW? DID YOU DO A DRY RUN OR PRACTICE ANY ASPECTS?
No dry run, I’m a blind believer that things will eventually work or you will figure out a way to wing it, I’m lucky that it has held true for every installation I’ve done. I am working on planning better. But I was here for 9 days, long days, long nights. I started with the installation portion, made and assembled it all on site, and then cleaned up and brought in the other work.
I’m a painter who builds sculpture so my thought process can sometimes be scattered and not make sense. Bad foresight, but I didn’t think I was going to need help, I didn’t realize how much work this was going to be. The installation wasn’t that there were technical difficulties, things were working well, but I just underestimated how physically taxing it was going to be. One day though my friend Jameson came through in the clutch and helped out a ton, helped me get things to a point where the finish line was visible, friends are beautiful. It was a lot of physical work too, so I was beat. I often realize things are unrealistic and then have to figure out a new way to execute something. But I usually subscribe to the blind faith that the idea I have in my head, that I have been working towards for months before getting into the actual space, is going to work.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP, ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO PROMOTE?
I’m in the annual group summer show, VOX VIII, at Vox Populi in Philadelphia. The sculpture park that Lisa Dillin curated, Coldstream Homestead Montebello Sculpture Park, I have a piece in that show, it’s up until next October. I made a fiberglass standing figure. I learned some new processes, it was great to be able to create something that can exist outside for a long period of time, a whole new world for me. I’m also in a show with Rives Wiley and Roxanna Geffen organized by Hemphill Fine Arts at Carroll Square Gallery in Washington DC. I’m also working with Gallery WW, which is a new gallery in Baltimore. Lastly, and very importantly I’ll be exploring Maryland’s waterways on my kayak with my friends during all downtime. More to come, let’s hope.