Painting in Space
- Rooms -
Painting in Three Dimensions
As a mural painter working in New York, I was used to painting large, expansive spaces. I felt comfortable painting a ceiling thirty five feet in the air while standing on two wood boards held up by a circular stairway railing. Yes, I’m afraid of heights, desperately so. I just didn’t look down that much. Or at all. My need to explore my own ideas about painting lead me to this work here. I wanted to explore the dimensionality of painting that combined the elements of a room with the decision making of a painter. I experimented with many materials, making installations in parks and indoor spaces using clay and porcelain. I longed for something more translucent. A material you could see through, like a layer of skin that holds a form yet allows you to peer through it.
Silk was appealing for it’s translucent qualities and unexpected strength. I began to experiment ruthlessly, playing around with its potential and its limitations. Today, I continue to explore this material, combined with others and in new forms, video, print, sculpture. I love entering an empty space with my raw materials and building a painting out of forms I have painted and shaped myself. As with a two dimensional painting, there is always a struggle that I have to push through. sometimes, this means taking apart the entire thing while in a space and starting again. I have learned to trust the process. I have come to understand the final component of these works are the people entering into them and experiencing them from within. Like any painting, it is the viewers relationship to the work that breathes life into it.
What is a Paintings in Space?
Paintings in Space are site-responsive room sized installations where the painted silk “canvas” has been removed from the stretcher bars and placed in three-dimensional space. Silk enables me to experiment spatially while using it symbolically as a facade-like structure. It is deceptively strong, yet ethereal in nature. The silk organza holds shape and bares the burden of pigment. Yet it allows shadow and light to play a role in the work. Chemicals are NEVER used to make these works. Only water, air and the sun. Other elements such as wall painting, lighting and wood structures are incorporated into the work.
Making the Work:
Much preparation and time goes into making the components of a work before the actual installation. I hand paint and form small batches of silk, sewing them together into larger pieces. Once in a space, all of these pieces are stitched together to form a larger whole. This is accomplished through trial and error. Often, I will stand on a ladder sewing pieces together, step down to take a look, take apart what I just painstakingly put together and reassemble again. This continues until I get a sense that what I am constructing flows and interacts with the space.
Being Site Responsive:
While I make sketches before hand, the outcome is always somewhat of a surprise. These Paintings in Space are a collaboration between myself, the material and the nuances of the actual space. Like painting on canvas, I am never quite sure of the final configuration and always experience some sort of struggle in the process of putting it all together. While I enjoy the challenge, the effort is always worth it in the end.
As Paintings in Space, one can enter into the painting, experiencing it from within. These works are intended to be immersive. The translucent quality of the silk allows for dimensionality, shadows and layering to become painting components. It is the viewers that become the final component of the painting.
One installation, many locations:
Im plant is a site-responsive floor installation that has been created and installed multiple times since 2008. The hand formed and painted pods resemble blood cells, jelly fish and breast implants. Each time I start from scratch painting and forming hundreds of silk organza pods specifically for a particular location. Forms are used to shape each pod and then removed, leaving a pod shape made of air. Gravity weighs on the installation as pods are layered on top of each other, testing the boundaries of what is possible.
Installations that grow over time:
In 2009, I was invited by the Brooklyn Arts Council to construct an installation in their gallery and office space. This piece included extensive wall painting and wall drawing. Over the course of six months the piece grew and changed, slowly taking over every available nook and cranny that I was permitted to use..
Understanding spatial concerns:
In 2008, I was invited by Transformer Gallery in Washington, DC to created an immersive installation in four rooms of a crumbling old building in downtown DC. This was the first time I had the opportunity to integrate my silk work into a public space. The rooms were covered in mold. Immediately I understood that the painted silk would play well against the industrial space with its moldy walls. I used raw flax to imitate hair coming out of an old light socket. I filled ceiling holes with silk constructions. I even installed my forms in the old sewer pipes and toilet. Two weeks in, the building was condemned and the exhibition closed to the public. We were given one and a half hours to remove our work from the space. That building is now a Bed, Bath and Beyond store.
See the Review of this work in Sculpture Magazine.
1931, when Yervand Kochar invented the art movement, "Les Peintures dans l`espace" in Paris. He proposed that a combination of painting, sculpture and mechanics could become one and transcend the work into a painting in motion. Kochar wanted to expand visual thinking. I too aim to challenge how a painting is experienced. My primary concern is utilizing spatial concerns to challenge how we define and experience painting.
Embroidered Constitutional Law
In 1958 an interracial couple, who had just gotten married, were awoken in the middle of the night by police in their bedroom. Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested because they were violating Virginia's miscegenation law. Their case subsequently went to the Supreme Court and in 1967, became the decisive case to strike down prohibition against interracial marriage.
For this room sized installation, I looked at the similarities between this case and what was occurring with Proposition 8 in California and gay marriage in general. I wanted to make a work that showed government imposition on personal matters. Legal court decisions going back to our original Constitution are hand embroidered upon a silk canopy over the "marital bed" . The Loving's marriage certificate is recreated in graphite to the right of the bed (just as it was in their own home on that fateful night).
The questions posed are these: Is marriage, an already insurmountable achievement, able to withstand these added pressures and do these pressures even have a place in the personal space between two human beings?
Exploring other materials and methods:
While materials are important, they are secondary to the ideas I want to focus on.
My experimental nature has allowed for many iterations of sculptural and installation work.