I work collaboratively.
My work often begins with a conversation or a recounting of a powerful narrative that brings members of my community into decisions about the process and final product of a work of art. On a transcendent level, these conversations may include visions drawn from a meditative conversation with a geographic space or drawn from meditative intimacy with God. On an imminent level, my family and I work together on our land, and we work together in the studio. Many of the figures you see in the paintings were created by my wife or my children, drawn from their own inspiration. But even with the golems, I make myself, the settings, concepts, and final compositions are developed together with them in the creative dialog. Often this dialog expands outward to include the voices of people inside and outside of my larger community.
To create the final image, the golem gets placed on the land, where earth, weather, and light are given the opportunity to affect the golem, and then a photo shoot of the scene is staged. The final image may involve some collaging, but for as much as possible, the painting will be an honest response to the figure on the land. In this sense, the land becomes a singular contributor to the composition. Things happen in light and form which I could not have predicted, but eagerly look to celebrate when they happen.
As much as possible, I work with my own handmade materials: from charcoal to ink, to wood panels, to oil paint, to the frame. I either make the materials myself by hand or repurpose older found materials. This not only ensures quality but enables me to use archival, low-toxic, green practices in the studio.
I been deeply inspired by the Counter-Reformation Neapolitan School, not only for its technical virtuosity but also for its tongue-in-cheek humor and its fleshy, gritty, self-effacing sense of the spiritual that somehow remains sincere. But then the figurative elements of my works draw from the anatomical waxes of La Specola, Florence Italy. These wax pieces blur the line between spiritual aesthetics and scientific inquiry, made from an ephemeral material that has nonetheless lasted hundreds of years with minimal deterioration. I find the surreal results compelling. I am also inspired by Asian art forms, specifically the Sumi-e and contemporary Japanese wood sculpture, with its preeminence of the artist’s mark, appreciation of space, the honor of source substances, and Haiku moments pregnant with possibilities of meaning.