I have always had a fascination with sharks. Their sleek lines, quick movements, their ability to instill terror. You feel a presence, but know you are incapable of controlling or changing its will… Imagine swimming in the middle of the ocean, the water calm, black, unable to see what lies beneath you. You’re being watched, hunted; not knowing what is coming for you until it’s too late. It’s the uncontrollable, the unseen, the mysteriousness, and the overwhelming weight of vulnerability. These emotions manifest themselves within me daily, and I have found my love for sharks to be a parallel to respecting and embracing the unknowns that surround me every day.
My work and material is multifaceted, primarily using sand mixed with acrylic. Sand is a very provocative material, soft and inviting, while simultaneously abrasive and irritating. Sand can greatly affect one’s mood, whether it gets stuck in your bathing suit or you let it run through your fingers and rest between your toes. The challenge and limitation of the sand mixture is very energizing; using it to create thick sculptural marks and hills that are representative of the weight I feel. Conversely, the sand can also evoke enjoyable memories and experiences of going to my grandparents’ beach house in the warm summer months. Sand is very important in my art making as a representation of my anxiety; this pushing and pulling of irritation and satisfaction that sand allows me to feel is reminiscent of what I want my works to express.
Grounded in my anxieties, my work is based on how it impacts my everyday life; battling these feelings of danger and panic while doing. I spend each day reflecting on my anxieties as I work to create these sculptural pieces that not only represent my burden, but offer me a grounding to the physical world. Through my processes of meditation, self-reflection, and manipulating the material, I strive to depict something that cannot be seen or shown.
Of course, this is simply what I am thinking about and confronting in each piece for myself. The work itself is very physical, and quite literally, heavy, with its own form of disorder in its materiality. Each piece I labor over consists of these thick sculptural marks that have a mix of harsh lines and deep scraping as well as organic forms that are built up to cast its own shadows within each piece, and the wall they are displayed on. For instance, in Micro Meditations, #12 you can see these strong shadows that give the piece its own contrast and physical depth. I enjoy the balance within this piece and the purity of the color mixed with the dirtiness of the sand. Because this material is in such disarray on its own, in this piece and others, the pieces require a kind of formal balance to fulfill its realization within them. Micro Meditations is a series of daily paintings where I focus my energy into mixing the paint, moving the sand, and feeling my emotions; simply acknowledging how I feel and letting that drive each piece without allowing negative emotions overpower me and the works. But, you can see the thickness of the material and how it extends towards the viewer and try to almost escape its own boundaries.
In creating these works I hope to not only display my anxiety and the shortcoming that supersede it, but to also help my audience understand the trials that come with anxiety or any mental illness and cope with and conquer them for themselves.
I have found great influence looking at great artists like Anselm Kiefer and Martin Resnick. Kiefer’s materialistic works embody a microcosm of collective memory while also using a broadness of media. Resnick looked to the pigment and materials to evoke such scale and density through abstraction. I also look to Richard Nott for his endless method of chaos in creating. His methods were purely physical, including pouring, wiping, sponging, blotting, dragging, scraping, gouging, sanding, burning and peeling. He considers his studio setting “a small war”, as he works on many pieces simultaneously, letting backlash from one-piece affect another as ways of recording.
I once had a professor tell me to be the shark of my paintings, to attack the paintings like a shark. I think about this frequently. Working through my paintings I realize that I am both the shark and its prey. I struggle and fear this unknown, but I also attack it; I get extreme anxiety as an artist, but I strive to use that to my advantage and make meaningful work for myself.