My work focuses mostly on cultural allegories and norms conveyed through a collage-like juxtaposition of figurative imagery, symbolism, and elaborate patterning. Often the figures personify the precarious, dark, grotesque, and sleazy side of human nature, subjects by which I am continually fascinated.
These topics seem to require, and in fact dictate, frontal, discomforting, and intrusive compositions. I revel in playing with bright color and pattern, tilted and flattened space, and distorted form to achieve this needed psychological expression and visual activity, but also to create an element of humor and fun.
My most recent body of work, entitled Monsterbet, is a figurative series based on the traditional format of children’s alphabet rhymes. The subject may be a bit more benign and childlike, but I still strive to keep a gritty edge in the work. Each letter stands for an invented monster that has a particular quirk. They are meant to be silly and fanciful while simultaneously touching on some of my favored themes of human vice, morality, and fear.
The figurative works also include The Arcana Shuffle series, which is loosely based on tarot cards and their archetypes. Similar to the tarot, each painting has an archetypal title, a bordered format surrounding a main figure, and a system of symbols. Unlike the tarot, each figure also has stereotypical aspects specific to Western culture, which makes the characters more accessible and satirical. As with all my work, these paintings are meant to be luscious, darkly humorous, and disturbing.
I also paint portraits, where similar formal characteristics are used to evoke more intimate narratives and to explore humanity in a more individualistic light. For me, they serve as an interesting counterpart to the allegories, if only to understand that outrageous qualities and emotions relate to all of us.
The still lifes usually depict singular or grouped objects of curiosity, sometimes centered around food and eating. Strange and surprising combinations of imagery create a tension between what is and is not considered beautiful and normal, or revolting and undesirable. It is also my hope that the still lifes inspire and invite some cross-cultural comparisons.
My interest in incorporating patterning and symbolism has also led me to create a series of non-representational work, based on the symbolism and patterning of non-European based art. Each painting is the result of research of numerous countries within four regional or religious categories.
To my surprise and delight, common themes of fertility, knowledge, longevity, agriculture, nature, spirituality, warfare, and prosperity unified the work I studied and created. As evidenced through the art of these many cultures, there is a definite human need for ornamentation to add value to and to glorify an object’s appearance and meaning. This research has strengthened my belief that ornamentation has an importance and validity, even in contemporary Western art, and it has encouraged me to continue using it in my representational work.