Intersections fascinate me. Grafting, in the traditional sense, is a process used to join two distinct plants, often trees, to make them more productive. In Graft natural tree limbs are grafted to milled lumber, wooden tools, furniture, and human hair. These works—gangly, elegant, contrived, fragile, and at times self destructive—are reflections on our peculiar relationship with nature. In one sense, as evolution has shown, humans and their productions are clearly as part of nature as any other organism. Our skyscrapers are as much a part of nature as the honeycomb of the bee. Hans Haacke said, “ The difference between ‘nature’ and technology is only that the latter is man made.” Yet, there are reasons to believe we are somehow different from the rest of the natural world. We’ve invoked both science and religion to explain the apparent division. We position ourselves above nature by declaring that we are its stewards. We position ourselves below by elevating the rest of nature to a romantic ideal. We look for natural cures and natural foods. We seek Natural Light beer and Nature Valley granola bars. And, even if we erase the ideas that purportedly separate us from the natural world, the most powerful factor distinguishing us as a species remains: our disproportionate impact on the environment.
This series of works is influenced by the matapalo trees of Central and South America. After birds deposit the seeds, the matapalo, or strangler fig, starts its life as an epiphyte high in an established tree. Over time, the vine's roots reach the forest floor and gradually weave themselves around the trunk. Eventually they encircle the tree so thickly that the host tree dies leaving a tightly woven mass of vines that take the form of the tree.
The word eidolon has a range of meanings including mental image, phantom, ideal, and idol. In this series I use it to describe the imperfect nature of memory and its intersection with our desire to seek out meaningful patterns.
The starting point for the most recent images are photographs I took in Spain when I lived there in 2006. The photographs are composited, digitally painted, printed and then painted using acrylic paint and non-pigmented acrylic polymer. While the photograph captures a pattern of light suggesting a specific place in time, the areas of paint, conjure images like an inkblot.
The black and white images, in the sub-series titled Jewelry Store, began when I found pieces of an 8mm film on the basement floor of an out-of-business jewelry store I had rented to use as a studio. Many of the small images were dark, blurry and scratched. Decoding the images, from merely identifying figures to interpreting a narrative, was difficult. Gradually I realized it was a pornographic film from the 1950s!
The shadowy and blurry quality of the figures and the environment gave the images a dream-like quality. To expand on this aspect I floated the enlarged images on a combination of acrylic polymer and wax. The milky nature of the wax both defines and hides the figures. In addition, the wax carries references to simulacra, as in wax figures. I also associate wax with preservation, particularly from the 1950s when Mason Jars with ripe fruit and vegetables were sealed with paraffin. I titled the series Jewelry Store not only because I found the images in an old jewelry store, but also because the idea of jewelry carries notions of seduction.