Artist Statement, Recent Work - “Operator’s Manual For Spaceship Earth”
In my most recent body of work, I wrestle with our present day relationship to local community. For many of us, this relationship is now marked with only a surface level understanding of where we live. As individuals, we did not choose to feel removed from the places we live, but collectively we chose values that alienated many of us from our homes and left us un-rooted, isolated and guarded. A deep understanding of local community generates ownership and respect for its land and its people and equips us with the know-how to care for it properly. The title, “Operator’s Manual For Spaceship Earth” was taken from Wendell Berry’s essay The Work of Local Culture in his book What Are People For? . Berry states, “The only effective 'Operator’s Manual for Spaceship Earth' is not a book that any human will ever write, it is hundreds of thousands of local cultures." In his essay, Berry advocates for the importance of local culture, and emphasizes the high cost we pay for not cultivating it in our economic, educational and social values.
This body of work is painted in such a way that the images depicted feel familiar but also slightly foreign, lacking a sense of specificity or portraying a specificity that doesn’t amount to a real place. In this way, I aim for my paintings to feel both nostalgic and inviting as well as isolating and perhaps even frustrating. Questions such as, What does it mean to understand a place?, What does it mean to take the time to understand a place?, What systems do we have to oppose to gain a deep understanding of a place? drove this body of work and owe themselves in large part to Mr. Berry’s essay, as well as the work of others and life experiences.
The collages function as an exploration of formal elements and an exploration of mood. As in my paintings, I aim to create relationships that feel important and intentional but also disjointed and awkward. In this way, the collages too feel both familiar and foreign. The creation of the collages served as pauses in the painting process, as reminders for intuition and the power of abstraction in conveying meaning.