To see life is to see decay and to see decay is to see the hope of restoration. The main fact of the world is that things fall apart--toys break, buildings are destroyed, traditions die, bodies stop working--but it wasn’t supposed to be this way. So we fight against the force of destruction, longing for a day that we can put things back together again, back to the way they ought to be. We wait for that day to come and, as we wait, it is our choice to see beauty among the ruin. To see otherwise is to choose to be numb to the reality of death or, conversely, to glorify its horrific and violent nature. My work is evidence of the struggle for the former--to find beauty in the wake of life’s enemy. Sometimes the struggle comes from conditions outside of my control, i.e. the limitations of my materials. The majority of the time, however, the struggle is in large part due to my own mistakes: my carelessness, my self-indulgence, my humanness, my fault. My creative process--a process of restoration--is about enduring the suffocation of the struggle, because something can’t be restored unless part of it is first destroyed or sacrificed. I suffer through the sacrifice of the darling in order create something new, something beautiful, something greater than itself.
Chinese Poetry & ShanShui (Series): ShanShui (water, mountain) painting is not an open window for the viewer's eye but is rather an object for the viewer's mind. It is a vehicle of philosophy; the serendipitous movement of the ink paints the mystery of the Dao or the “way”--the beginning of all things and the way in which all things live, move, and breathe; the natural, nameless, eternal flow in which we find our place in the universe. Uncontrived by human hand, the Dao defines our existence by an intuition that is limited by human vocabulary, thus defying the precision and predictability of both linear and cyclical being. It is by the Dao that one understands timelessness and the secrets of ancient traditions.
ShanShui artists (painters and poets) speak in soft, gestural whispers. They carry crickets in their palms. They wear shoes that make no sounds on wooden floors. They watch smoke ascend and dew land. The taste of oolong lingers on their lips and the scent of sweet osmanthus emanates from their linen jackets. They live by the ancient parables they were taught to honor as children.
Resurrected Memories of Home (Series): Resurrected from my time as a college student, this series of work was originally created during a time of darkness, a time when I didn’t know what hope was nor how much I needed it. I was a young artist searching for some kind of way to think about myself and about my place in the world. There was nothing terribly wrong with the pieces as they were, but something about them felt flat, incomplete. I’m not trying to rework them out of their darkness. It contributes to the tonality of my larger body of work. It completes the story. Rather, as I’m working through my past - this part of me that, out of fear, I’ve too quickly forgotten - I am resurrecting memories that I have realized aren’t in fact all that scary. I am giving them new life.
Homage to the Bones I - III: I combine chemical and natural materials because they interact with one another in unexpected and often drastic ways. They fight one another, break each other down, change each other. The evidence of the change--of the struggle--is what’s beautiful. In the struggle, patterns, textures and colors emerge that I can’t create from my own mind. They have to show up naturally, revealing themselves to me while I work. They remind me that not everything is within my control, that sometimes my world is going to spin out into a chaotic mess. It’s my job to learn to make something beautiful of that mess, and to live peacefully within it.
This series was originally intended as a way to preserve memories of old friends and family. I had carried these polaroids with me around the world for years, and the wear of the travel was beginning to affect their lifespan. My desire was to cover them with a firm, silky wax coating, but the reaction of the polaroid chemicals to the heat quickly transformed them from images of people I’ve loved into brittle, bonelike sheets of abstracted relationships.