Choking Hazards

choking hazardWEB

Choking Hazards is composed of personal symbols that, to me, represent the things that we feed ourselves that can be comforting or misleading but nonetheless become part of us. The composition places the viewer inside of a mouth. The objects floating in front of us are an ouroboros of tears being poured into and out of wet eyes, a well-loved comfort item, and a set of ears that are so distorted that it’s hard to tell what they are. Mirroring the mouth that we are in, is another one that has the word “run” imbedded in the bottom lip.

I like that the word run can be either a prompt to play or a warning depending on how you read it to yourself.

*This piece was created in response to Kimberly Casey’s poem Beauty in the Broken Things, and is part of a larger series of ekphrastic art between the two of us.

The Quarrel of Monsters

The Quarrel of Monsters, 2019, oil on canvas, 48in x 48in

The Quarrel of Monsters began by making impulsive marks on the canvas with watered down black oil paint and then reacting to the imagery I found, the way you would look at a Rorschach test. First, I saw the hands, and then the hands needed arms and so on. I gave myself permission to indulge in any thought that came to mind allowing the painting to inform itself through my stream of consciousness. It came to completion in the same manner it started but I used my fingers instead of a large paintbrush.

When I was attempting to untangle the possible meaning of this piece I originally thought that it was about the imprint of story and culture. I’ve come to realize that my work literally is the imprint I’ve been given by story and culture. From the motivation to make a painting and how I go about it to deciding when it’s completed, my thoughts and actions are not about my experience – they are my experience.

When I put myself in the position of the viewer, I see it as an expression of compressed time. Like I’m watching a time lapse video all at once. The brushwork lets you see the hand at work. all of it comes at you in one single moment where a bunch of things are going on and its overwhelming. Yet, there are still all of these moments to pause at where time is slow and contemplative. It’s the old tension and release thing. 

Detail 12in x 16in

Hairshirt

Hairshirt, 2017,oil on canvas, 28in x 28in

Hairshirt illustrates a complex notion of selfhood and explores where the framework for this notion possibly came from. The teeth, hearing aid, and lace gloves are objects that symbolize the impressions I received from my family of origin. It seemed fitting to me to also include the familiar imagery of Medusa’s snakes. The version of her myth that I am most familiar with is the story of a woman who was feared and demonized because of her power, which was the result of a curse put on her by another woman because she was raped. Myths are so old and have been repeated so many times that I think they become part of all of our stories. To me, the well-coiffed hairshirt symbolizes the self-imposed discomfort some of us are willing to endure to maintain our own impression of cultural expectations. I found it important to highlight that with the title.

Overlook

Overlook, 2019, oil on canvas, 8in x 8in

Overlook is a small painting with one eye looking up as if in prayer that is starting to become eclipsed by another that can still see you even though it is closed. I painted the eye in front so sensitively that it became a little confrontational. This piece is a lead in to my series of 100 eyes I’m calling I see you I see you.

Navel Gazing

Navel Gazing, 2018, oil on canvas, 27in x 36in

Navel Gazing is an exploded view of contextual factors influencing perception through a sensory relationship of mind and body with a strong awareness of being the center of one’s own universe.

Installation view at The Wiregrass Museum of Art, photo credit: Cynthia Wagner

Navel Gazing was created for an exhibition responding to objects in the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s permanent collection. I chose to respond to two pieces: Joseph Albers, Homage to the Square from the 1960s and Fransisco Goya, Duendecitos (Hobgoblins) 1799 While viewing work by Goya and Albers we are confronted with human folly, individual perception, and biological influence. We are left to question what we see at first glance in our own field of vision. I am reminded to be aware or beware of false transparency and bias reinforced by social priorities and to look at myself and consider my own participation. 

The painting is placed in between the hands to suggest that they could be your hands. The composition of the painting places the navel at eye level, a play on the term “navel gazing”and being self absorbed. The skeletons are then in your peripheral vision, where you recognize shape before color and might feel unease at not knowing what’s there – a common fear and reason for poor judgement. The eyes are in the positions of moon phases, representing all of the things you’ve witnessed over time that influence how you see things. And the hands on the outside are warm or cool while the hands on the inside have fingertips that have switched temperatures. This illustrates a child’s science experiment where you place one hand in hot water and the other in cold. If you put them both in tepid water right away the sensations swap. The hands represent the information we react to in our environment that is only true in context to the other things our bodies feel – tying in Albers’ interaction of color experiments.

Caught

Caught1WEBCaught, 2018, 4in x 5in x7.5in, paper, encaustic medium, oil paint, hair

I made “Caught” after a poem I wrote that includes the lines:

“Every time I reach into a dark space I’m afraid something will bite me                                It doesn’t stop me from creating dark spaces”

I chose to make a literal model of this image to see if I can translate poetics through an object the same way I can with language.

This piece can also relate to Rome Italy’s Mouth of truth

“While the origin is up for debate, the unifying legend surrounding the stone carving is that if one were to stick his or her hand inside the disc’s mouth and tell a lie, the rocky maw would bite the offending hand off. This belief seems to have originated during the Middle Ages when the disc was supposedly used during trials. According to legend, the accused put his or her hand in the slot, and, if found to be untruthful, a hidden axman would lop off the appendage. While this use seems to be apocryphal, the superstition persists to this day.” from Italy’s Mouth of Truth By Eric Grundhauser

 

*This piece became a companion to my painting “Navel Gazing” along with a matching hand modeled after the giant hobgoblin in Goya’s “Duendecitos”

 

Save Your Tears for Me and I'll Put Them Back in Later

Save Your Tears for Me and I’ll Put Them Back in Later, 2015, paper, encaustic medium, pipette, glass
14in x 12in x 8in

Save Your Tears for Me and I’ll Put Them Back in Later is a piece I made about the moment I realized I could no longer protect my child from the outside world. She had an incident in elementary school that escalated to a point that she reached her threshold of what she could bear. When I came to pick her up her shirt was soaking wet from tears. It’s overwhelming at times to know the world will reveal itself to her and how much is outside of my control. So I made this shirt for her to save her tears for me to put back in when we’re together. But the thing about tears is you can never put them back.

Covered

Covered, 2018, paper, graphite, encaustic, and hair, 16in x 6in x 3.5in

Covered uses the easily recognizable structure of pants to playfully take look at our shared agreement as humans of what we’ve decided should be covered or altered to signify our departure from the category Animal.

Detail of inside drawing of hair.

Through the Eye of the Shears

Through the Eye of the Shears, 2019,oil on canvas, 12in x 12in

Through the Eye of the Shears is based on one of the proverbs in Bruegel the Elder’s painting Netherlandish Proverbs,1559. It is found in the painting on the outside of a building and stands as a warning that you will get swindled here. The eye in his painting does not have a tear. The eye I used is from the Flemish painter Gaspar de Crayer in Penitent Magdalene 17th century. The label explains “Overcome by love for Christ, Mary Magdalene renounced her sensual past. Tears streaming, jewels and finery flung aside. Her scissors are poised to cut off her flowing hair.” By combining the two, I am suggesting that the emotional attachment to a belief can betray you.

Is belief really anything more than longing?