Concept-led and process-driven, my paintings are highly reactive. My process begins by simultaneously pouring oil-based and water-based house paint onto canvas laid flat on the ground. As the paint collides, it plasticizes and repels, altering its chemical properties and moving itself around the surface of the canvas. I then add “subtractive” chemicals to deconstruct and corrode, such as household cleaning products and paint strippers. As the various elements react, I introduce “additives,” such as wood spackle, paper towel, cosmetics and medicines. Chemicals are chosen for their reactive properties as well as for their promises of ideal cleanliness and conquered imperfections. Paint colors are chosen for their names (Dazzle Me, Sacrifice, Yin Mist, Little White Lie). Both the painted objects themselves and their materials lists function as psychological archives and as commentary on the feminine ideal. While the initial chemical reactions are violent, subtle reactions continue over time, sometimes resulting in disintegrated canvas. The finished painting is never quite finished.
At first glance, my paintings recall the work of Jackson Pollock and the more vigorous Abstract Expressionists, but in fact they sit in direct opposition to it. With my “Abstract Reactionist” paintings, I aim to protract moments in time. Where Pollock and his brethren exalted the artist’s gesture, I run from it, trying to remove my hand as much as possible from the work. Pollock performed an active and masculine “painter as god” process, heavy with gesture. My performance is a private and passive one; when I play god, it’s as a detached creator. I introduce explosive elements into a toxic fray but allow them to create their own chaos. The process is more a maternal fostering of independence than a patriarchal system of creation. My work hovers in a place of tension between omnipotence and total relinquishment of control. I make paintings that make themselves, documents of semi-controlled chaos.
Materially, aesthetically, and texturally my work speaks to that of Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Antoni Tàpies, and Jay DeFeo. It is derived from a range of common materials and can be thickly impasto. Conceptually my work sits in conversation with artists dealing in time, transcendence and perception: Diana Al-Hadid, Uta Barth, and Cornelia Parker. The volatility of my work and its abstracted psychological inception reference Parker’s description of her own work:
“constantly unstable, in flux…so fragile it might collapse. It is a universal condition, that of vulnerability. We don’t have solid, fixed lives; we’re consistently dealing with what life throws at us.”
My photographic work also deals with abstraction, albeit conceptually. The series Down the passage which we did not take, takes its title from the poem Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ by TS Eliot. In the same poem, Eliot writes, "What might have been is an abstraction." The convoluted relationship between photography and memory has been explored by artists such as Gerhard Richter, William Eggleston, Jack Pierson, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. A photograph can become a simulacrum of a memory; people often wonder whether their photos have supplanted their memories. Sugimoto posits that:
"However fake the subject, once photographed, it's as good as real."
This series was shot on 35mm slide film, scanned, and then digitally manipulated, reducing detail to simplified form and producing a cinematic, dreamlike quality. The subject matter is an architectural model I designed and built of an empty motel. Each side of the motel corresponds to an emotion and cardinal direction. The north side of the building represents desolation; the west, reflection; the south, expansiveness; and the east, solitude.
Our built environments become anthropomorphized over time, imbued with our interactions, memories, our living of lives. The motel photos suggest an isolation that references the emptiness inherent in the paintings of Hammershøi and Di Chirico. The lonely, gauzy images of this empty motel are representational, but the history and place they record is abstract, begging the question, “Was I ever there?” They suggest the memory of a place never visited and a longing for a time that never existed. While my paintings attempt to encapsulate the passage of time, my photographs observe and quietly mourn it. I am a documentarian, though not always a trustworthy one. Memory is a shape-shifter; it’s impossible to see the past without the overlay of the present lens. Both in my painted and photographic work, I record the mundanity of life alongside its turbulence; the haunting presence of the past in conjunction with the cacophony of the present.