My current series of photo-based work originates from photographs I have taken on city streets in New York, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and at Grand Central Terminal. I am expanding and shifting the parameters of traditional painting & photography by combining them with digital technology, narrative text, and resin surface on wood panels. By blending these mediums, it enables me to push beyond their conventional boundaries to create a new hybrid. These are one-of-a-kind works, not photo editions.
I have always lived in large cities, so my work is informed by the multitude of issues we encounter living in a metropolitan area: loneliness and alienation in our fast-paced society, the concept of personal identity and the loss of it, the passage of time, the individual as part of the crowd, and how we can stand out from the ‘sea of sameness’, since we each have our own unique voices and stories to tell.
Around 2000 I began writing text over some of the figures in my photos in an attempt to personalize or individualize them, and make them stand out from the crowd. These brief stories about the people are from my imagination, based solely on their appearance or stance. By using text in my work, it adds another layer, and gives the viewer a chance to “experience” the artwork, and become part of the process by reading it. There is a light humor to my work but I ask the spectator to go further and deeper. I want them to dissolve the narrative and address the experience.
I superimpose these “biographies” on top of the individuals, almost as if they are wearing their stories like an article of clothing. I try to give a little bit of history about the person; where they are from, their age, what they do, their hopes, their dreams, and often something embarrassing or personal that they would rather not have revealed.
In my work the documentary nature of the B&W photograph merges with the painterly qualities of oil, establishing a dialogue between the two. I mount my black & white images on top of 2 5/8” deep wood panels, and hand paint them with numerous layers of oil glazes to build up the color, combining the old master technique of glazing with contemporary photo/digital technology. The final surface has a UV resin coating.
The surface is left intentionally glossy so that in various light, the viewer can see his/her own reflection. This concept can also be seen in other artist’s work such as Francis Bacon. The following quote by Hugh M. Davies from a Bacon catalogue in 1999 explains it well. “He reveled in the fortuitous reflection of the viewer superimposed in the painting, as each of us becomes complicit with the painter, as both a protagonist and voyeur”.
I have also started to incorporate ‘ghost-like apparitions’ into some of my work. These figures represent the passage of time – all the people that have been in the exact same place but at a different moment – maybe only five minutes before, or ten years in the future. We are all connected in this time continuum, even if we aren’t aware of it. My work embraces the contemporary non-linear view of time with its randomness, spontaneity, and chance occurrences. The figures are often caught in movement, conveying our individual journeys, where we are all “collectively alone”.