Passages explores loss and recovery, equilibrium and flux, and past and present. These ideas are visible in my life as an artist exploring materials and ideas in the studio with expected and unexpected consequences and as a human being experiencing stability, disruption and reformation.
Many of the works were prompted by the discovery and purchase of over 100 antique printer’s plates mounted on wood blocks. The photo-engraved metal plates were used in printing newspapers and books throughout the 20th century. They resonate with memories of the past including anonymous yearbook photos, prized animals, buildings, geographical sites, etc. The work also features photographs I’ve taken over several years including a welcome sign for the town of “Enigma” and old billboards where decaying signs contain fragments of the original message. Many of the photographs were taken in South Georgia where my elderly mother currently lives. In many ways the photographs became a way of actualizing the inevitability of loss.
The landscape as signifier has been a focus of my work for many years. While attending an two -month artist’s residency in northern Iceland in 2017, I studied the geology of the country and explored ways the landscape could be used as subject matter to grapple with the recent death of my wife. I began to use multiple horizon lines (subdivisions of the rectangle) to visualize the what lies beneath and how it supports what is above. Iceland as a landmass is in constant flux due, in part, to shifting tectonic plates and the submerged mid-Atlantic ridge. Its stability is literally being disrupted and re-formed.
The geometry of the grid serves as a primary means of organizing visual information. As a graduate student I worked with a painting professor who required students to subdivide a rectangle with lines and then blocks of value and color for 8 weeks. The process was very constricting for most students until the professor asked his students to include representational elements thus using the abstract studies as a catalyst for creating a variety of compositions. In my work, the grid is used to arrange disparate imagery, color and varying paint surfaces both transparent and opaque. The attached printer’s plates are used to extend beyond the edge and above the grid contradicting the flatness of the plywood support. Ultimately the grid serves as a metaphor for the hidden structure of our lives, a fragile framework that is continually forming and evolving.