From the time I was five onward, I always had some sort of creative project in the works. My teacher in elementary school began my early art education in 1996 by teaching me about artists such as O’Keefe, Picasso and Seurat and showing me their individual techniques. Throughout my basic schooling, I continued to have exemplary educators who took an extra interest in showing me how to hone my skill set and place in me a drive to be better. The methods of art historical inquiry that my educators instilled in me influenced the work that I produced. When I was younger and just learning about the vast capabilities of art, I focused more on completing works with a naturalistic feel to them and that were grounded in my familial relationships or societal on-goings. For example, I did a lot of graphite drawings from photographs of family events, my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary and family vacations for instance, I wanted to manipulate those memories to construe a more controlled sense of individuality that the photos themselves lacked. And going back even younger, I won a state-wide poster contest that promoted a drug-free school environment. It focused on a working-class neighborhood’s potential to foster productive behavioral habits in their children to lessen their chances at being consumed by the negative effects of drug use. In tackling these integrated subjects, I feel as if the means of analysis I learned as a young artist of breaking down a particular artist’s style, their societal references and relevance helped me to break down my own inspirations and find the best means of expression for them.
However even with this abundance of outside encouragement early on, at home my artistic drive was only encouraged as a hobby. I was told to focus on another prospective career because there was no money in art -I wonder if my mom would tell that to Damien Hirst! So I tried to delve into another career track, Marine Science. I do not think I could have chosen a more different field. I was president of my Marine Science club in high school and that is the chosen degree path that I was accepted into the University of South Florida for. Ironically, I found that the part of Marine Science that I enjoyed most was being able to see the world with wonder, as a child would. This ability would resurface in my work and I hope it gives it a sense of raw honesty. Late in 2009, things began to fall apart for me scholastically and personally. It was art that I finally went back to in order to pull myself back together. In art I find the closest thing to religion I will ever understand; I finally found in myself a whole person.
I took that sense of childish wonder and am running with it as far as it will let me. My work more recently has focused on themes regarding a duality between personal wonderment and entrapment, complex and fragile familial relationships as well as the manipulation of knowledge in American society. I feel as if the American eduction system has been doing its students a disservice; we as a populace disregard the immense skill and dedication that it takes to master a craft or subject area and take these for granted. Particularly, the writings of Ayn Rand have inspired me to search for the individual’s power and role within society, its connection to their personal skill set and its henceforth manipulation for the potentially ungrateful or unknowing masses. In our time of immense modernity, knowledge is at our fingertips and how we utilize its potential is maddening.
Most recently, I have traveled to Paris, France and combined two of these themes to focus on the differing attitudes of American and Parisian usage of public space. The creation and functionality of Parisian parks has been a great influence. The dichotomy of the classification of public space and its usage as a personal living space is very different from the majority of American spaces. The Parisian’s use their parks as we would our living rooms; for exercise, naps, eating, socializing and studying. It takes American viewed “private” moments and makes them a part of a public lifestyle; it functions as a means of tying the population together in a way that this country lacks. The familial relationships that influenced the creation of these Parisian norms I believe stemmed from centuries of citizenship and an allegiance with one’s fellow Frenchman.
I currently work with many mediums including but never limited to: graphite, charcoal, acrylic, styrofoam, wood, food particles, razor blades, and vodka. I am intrigued by the relationship materials have with one another and in finding corresponding humanistic roles that would fit into manipulations of those materials. I hope to bring knowledge of art practices, both material and metaphysical, to young students in the same way that my educators have done for me.
This work in particular I hope will bring light to other students regarding the potential utilization of a public lifestyle that I believe to be more beneficial for a nation than the isolationist standpoint we have been adopting as a result of Manifest Destiny. As the American dream has inspired, we want to own our own land and claim a space as ours. In pride of this ownership, as a people we want to make use of it for our own pleasure, which leads to the isolationist nature I am referring to. In combining the public and private spheres, Paris has maintained a level of connectivity and comradery with their fellow citizens. This piece exemplifies these different uses of space and will hopefully force these realizations onto the viewer, allowing them their own introspection and analysis of their private spaces.