About 10 years ago, landscape and place heavily informed my art practice. I made work inspired by the places where human destruction felt minimal and distant, where I felt absolute smallness, yet undeniable belonging. My paintings and drawings weren't necessarily about specific places, or representational in style, but were driven by a desire to convey the energy felt in these expansive, raw environments that were dominated by vast sky and distant lines of demarcation.
At the beginning of graduate school, in 2011, I needed to grow as an artist and wanted to explore something new, but wasn’t sure which direction to go. Although I felt pressure (mostly self-imposed, admittedly) to make art about big world issues with heavy conceptual framework, I used personal experiences as source material for new direction. During the first week of my MFA program, my friend was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. By the end of the semester, she was dead. I spent 6 months paying witness to her demise, from a distance, and ultimately felt powerless. In an attempt to navigate this totally overwhelming experience, I immersed myself in an artmaking process that would change the whole trajectory of my practice. The series of drawings I made, and a few of the drawings made over the next year, were inspired by the ambiguous, but persistent, psychological space that dominates a person’s experience with terminal illness. When I was making this work I was fascinated by the inner battle of dominance and subordination that ensues during the advanced stages of cancer, and the mental geography of this disease. Combining imagery derived from the biological inscape of the human body with how I imagined the psychological experience of illness to feel, I made these drawings with heavy questions weighing on my mind. I wondered: “How does it feel to transition through stages of physical decay? If that feeling were a physical space, how would it appear? Does a person’s sense of self diminish as their body does?” These were uncomfortable questions, but ones that led me into a creative process that connected me more deeply to the incredible experience of being alive, and how finite this experience truly is.
It took me years to pinpoint this, but ultimately I’ve concluded that the art I make often stems from a deep, empathic desire to respond to situations that I, or others, feel, but don’t necessarily understand; situations that may seem senseless, or tragic, but that connect us to our collective experience of being human. The idea of liminal spaces refers to psychological spaces of human experience that aren’t easily defined, but that are undoubtedly felt. This is an abstract idea. Instead of taking something specific, and abstracting its essence, my work attempts to take something abstract, like the idea of liminal psychological space, and suggest its specificity through visual language. We become overwhelmed by experiences we don’t understand, but we’re also seduced by our desire to understand them more clearly. I use mark-making and obsessive micro-textures to express that tension. By conjuring and obscuring biomorphic shapes with graphite and water media I attempt to depict these infinite psychological spaces of human experience, giving the illusion of form to something that seems present but simultaneously formless.