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Caught up in an obsessed downward art spiral hoping never to hit bottom

Revised Artist Statement 09/26/2011

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Firstly, thank you for reading these brief thoughts.

I am currently obsessed with painting arrest photos of civil rights advocates from the mid-50’s in Montgomery, Alabama.

It is my belief that America has lost something more important in recent years than predominance in the world economy; it is our ability to discern what is important and act upon it. These images, for me, epitomize that on many levels. Each of these brave individuals risks something different, notoriety, income, family, beliefs, safety, but they risk it all collectively.

My media currently is simple and borrows from my local surroundings. I am an artist in the Southern United States and the artists that purely express Southern culture are often labeled “Folk Artists,” (e.g. Thornton Dial). I am borrowing heavily from him in the same way that early rock and roll was birthed from the cauldron of African American Southern blues.

The use of “locally sourced” materials speaks to the environment from which the art originates in the same way that Mayan work relates to terra cotta, Chinese calligraphy to ink and rice paper, Lascaux cave paintings relate to charcoal. I believe that the medium is a part of the message and this concept is lost when artists limit themselves to using only the most versatile medium (e.g. oil paint or a stylus).

Likewise, using diverse medium introduces depth and physicality to a work that might be lost otherwise. A painting of a car, or an explosion, or cancer is viscerally different from painting with car parts, gunpowder, or cigarettes. It introduces another orthogonal dimension, it opens the work for improvisation and chaos; creating more room for the viewer's own interpretation.

I currently work with rug, wood panel, marine epoxy, wax, charcoal, acrylic, oil paint, silver, rope, rawhide, raw pigment, etc.

I would seek to remind us all of our personal worth. Individual loss, bravery, love, and sacrifice is everywhere and everywhere ignored each day. Modern media channels give us the facade of connectedness diluted by the breadth of communication, but it is human and personal connectedness that my paintings seek to explore.

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