My current body of work draws upon imagery from my childhood in rural Wisconsin and is informed by my training in physics. The work was initially inspired by a large batch of old family photos that were given to me by my grandmother. Looking at the photos, I began to realize conflicts between my personal history of our family and the history that the photos represented. In considering these conflicts, I began to connect the psychology of my personal relationships to physical concepts of what it means to observe.
Expanding from the quantum mechanical notion that observation is interactive, I became incredibly interested in physicist John Wheeler’s proposal that observations made in the present might physically impact the past. By applying this physical possibility to the emotional and interpersonal realm of family, I began to explore the extent to which reality has an interactive relationship with our personal expectations and perceptions.
In doing so, my work has grown to question the nature of knowledge and perception in general; my visual language has expanded from old family photos to a wide range of images that I find personally familiar: deer, birds, birch trees, branches. By painting these highly familiar images into imagined environments, sometimes juxtaposing them with unrelated images, I confuse what I think I know about an image with potentially entirely new meanings for that image. By marrying the planned with the unplanned, the figurative with the abstract, the new with the old, my paintings explore the intersection of imagination, expectation, memory, and reality.
In the spirit of discovery, I do my best to keep my practice as open-minded as possible. I allow myself to change my mind about the direction of my work at any time during the creative process. I like using oil paint because of its long drying time. For me, drying time is a playful time to imagine alternate realities for the painting. I try to work with my subconscious in this stage, intuitively painting ideas into and out of the painting. I’ll even sand down paintings and paint entirely new ideas on top of them.
As a result of this subconscious play, images from separate layers are revealed to the surface, interacting with each other to create the final painting. In this way, the meaning of the final work can only be gleaned by piecing together clues from an otherwise hidden history of layers. In the final work, this process of piecing together serves as a metaphor for how we create meaning in our own lives and for how we, as observers, build reality together.