My practice was initially focused on painting and ceramics.  After completing an MFA at the School of Art Institute in 2011, I refocused my approach to making artwork via a critical engagement with sites, their history, and their future.  The artwork gathered here, is the result.  The body of work was re-catalogued, each work re-numbered, and many works excluded in the spring of 2020....

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geometry & TerritoryMaterialityhistory, trauma & SiteContained Ecosystem

Geometry & Territory

The relationship of the page, canvas, map, paper surface, and surface of the artwork in general to the world in which we exist is a primary concern of the artwork that I make. It is expressed through an understanding of each as a territory that can be represented and that can hold representation. In many ways, I don’t have a preference whether I make artwork that directly intervenes in physical territory, social structures, or economic system or whether I make artwork that is intended to exist inside some enclosure and in a context that has traditionally contained artwork.  I have, however, tended to make artwork for more traditional contexts.  This has been, in large part, because of the inherent cost of making artwork in the world and the great chance that such work will be overlooked entirely.  It is also due to the fact that I remain interested in the history and future of representation on the surface and how the surface of an artwork that takes the form of – or critiques – a traditional artwork can reframe and shed new light on the world we inhabit.  In light of this, much of the work that falls into this area of focus often involves bringing together through collage a range of images and objects.  This then falls on a geometric system to bring these elements together and essential make a home for them on the surface of the artwork.  Through this process, fields, figures, contains, limits, connections, and points of focus are created.  The result is essentially a new territory that stands in relationship to the territories from which the elements were drawn, but that is entirely other – with its own logic and horizon, meaning and purpose.

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Materiality - World & Object

An interest in the physical makeup of the art object and world extends from an interest in the tension between the surface of the artwork and the surface of the world – and how we experience and perceive both.  This interest has caused me to deconstruct paint, surface, and the frame supporting a canvas.  It has caused me to use a camera and shovel to capture the surface of the territory that I am interested in unpacking and representing to the receiver of the artwork.  At the same time, it has led me to collect artifacts from the world and incorporate them into the works that I create.  In other cases, the interest in materiality has taken on a more topical or conceptual manifestation.  These works are more interested in something that we might call nature, how we define nature, manipulate it, and transform it.  These works are concerned with the politics, economics, and social constructs that exist to convince a group of people to work towards a particular transformation and live within a specific conception of nature – and in many ways, god, belief, and faith.  The result are a series of artworks that attempt to look beneath the surface of the material world in order to help us understand how and why it appears the way it does, who this appearance benefits, and how it might appear otherwise.

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History, Trauma & Site

Perhaps more than anything else, I am interested in calling attention sites that trace historic and often traumatic events.  I am interested in undertaking such investigations, however, with sensitivity to my limited frame of reference.  It is for this reason that I have often focused on those sites that are closest to home.  For those sites and events that hold a global dimension, I have often chosen to leave the images to speak for themselves and abandoned attempts to write overarching narratives that ties these images together and offer a stance as to how this past might relate to a future.  In this sense, my approach to history, trauma, and site has been to offer evidence and a framework rather than a definitive interpretation.  At the same time, my personal perspective is clearly inscribed in this frame.  It reflects my value system and deep desire that these sites of trauma teach us how we might act in the future so that the next generation is not subject to such trauma.  While I would love to extend this process of examining sites, their histories, and those that have been made subject to these systems to all sites of trauma around the world, I remain committed to those to which I have some – even if minimal – direct access.  In many ways, each investigation opens a new horizon of knowledge and information on which I can draw that leads to the next site and the capacity to engage sites that have a greater level of universality.  I have often pushed my access to such universal sites of trauma – perhaps, in some cases, leading to a questionable relationship that might have been enriched with more time, access, an authority to investigate.  Even if such failures come about, I feel that engaging these sites is essential for, if we remain limited by what we are authorized to do, places we can go, histories that we are allowed to comment on or engage, and communities that we can interact with, we will only be perpetuated a system of control, hierarchy, and territory that limits the potential to see beneath the surface, understand how reality as we know it comes about, and take appropriate action in the future.

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Contained Ecosystems

Painting by Walker ThistedPainting by Walker Thisted

While much of my work points beyond the limits of the page, there are some artworks that are primarily concerned with what can happen within the contained limited of the artwork itself.  While other works are concerned with using an investigation that often brings in history, site, and materiality to help frame the present and understand how we might act in the future, these works are really just concerned with the present.  There is certainly a history contained in them in terms of how they are created – the layers, the timing of the stroke, the relationship between colors, the configuration of the elements, etc…  This history, however, is laminated – flattened as a surface to be encountered in a specific moment or moments.  This surface becomes home to elements and ways of perceiving their relationship that exist strictly in relationship to their construction and how they are encountered by the receiver.  These elements include figure, ground, field, line, shape, density, surface, affect, transparency, opacity, fluidity, and control among others.  They are related through difference, repetition, limits, borders, boundaries, horizons, continuity, homogeneity, singularity, and event distance among other terms.  The combination of these elements within a particular work provokes some interpretation within the receiver that, at heart, is philosophical in the sense that it is concerned with what we know as a result of these relationship and how we know it.  These works are not concerned with meaning, but the system that makes meaning possible.  As such, they ideally offer a theory of knowledge that can be applied to the other works concerned with other areas of focus as well as how we might look at and behave within the world more broadly.  In this sense, they are similar to all of the other works in that they are a proposition for action – albeit a proposition that may be made via abstraction or non-representation.  They are a reminder that something other exists – of the unknown and mystery, desire and hope of uncovering what lies beneath the surface and that might one day become visible.

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