My work, in all of its forms, has been about memory, about place and lasting impressions. What do I take away from an experience that will stay with me, when everything else is stripped away, what will last?
In my earlier work, I focused on the human connection, the characters whose roles play so prominently in my life. What are these people’s interactions, what are their connections to one another and most importantly, to myself? I capture these memories and instances and let the rest of the picture, fade away, either by omitting it entirely or leaving it to a flat color field.
My most recent work focuses on place, what impressions does a place leave on me? For this work, I find myself working with elements of the place and there for the elements of art. I ask myself what colors are most invoked by the place, what textures and what shapes? If I look upon the place, bore it into my memory and then close my eyes, what are the most basic impressions that present themselves first?
In my artwork I find that the most truthful way for me to get across a moment in time, a lasting feeling of a place or an event, is to pare down the memory to its core elements.
I think about the artist Kathe Kollowitz, a German artist who focused on the human condition and celebrated love and empathized with the agony of her country. I connect with her so much because to accomplish the emotional poignancy in her work, she often focused on the humans alone and unconcerned herself with surrounding. Also, Kollowitz would focus intently on the relationships or emotions in her pieces , and let the rest of the figures fade away, whether this be the embrace of mother and child, or the acceptance of time on an old woman’s face, the rest of the composition was irrelevant to the intent, and thusly, nonexistent.
I think too on the painter Georgia O’Keefe, whose wondrous landscapes evoke such a sense of space and vitality of her beloved New Mexico, one feels as though they are present under the weight of her mountain, Padrenal. O’Keefe achieves this level of intimacy with the area not through the conveyance of every detail, every grain of sand and crack of earth, but through the omission of such trivialities, letting the overwhelming forms and contrast of colors speak for themselves.
Omission for the sake of conveyance, for the sake of ownership and understanding: both of these artists, Kollowitz and O’Keefe understood this concept so well and it is that idea that I keep returning to in my work. When I try to convey too much in my work it gets muddled, but when I am truthful with the memory, the people or the place, when I pare down my idea to its very core elements, I am the most successful in my creations.
I believe that when given the time to explore this concept to its fullest, to have the opportunity to take risks with my art, I will continue to unlock the language of my craft. I recently spent time at The Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Ireland as an artist in residence, and it affected my art is a profound way. With the length of time to experiment and connect and revisit different methods and ideas, I began to create a whole new language in my artwork. Using the concepts of paring down as I have described, I was able to create vibrant, tactile landscapes that spoke of my surroundings in a way that I did not know landscape could do. I am ready to fully explore these new ideas, to get feedback and engage in important discussions to push my artwork forward, to break my own boundaries. I am ready to become the most truthful artist that I can be, to convey my impressions of place in the most striking and memorable way.