Enter through the grand great hall and find a firm but esoteric foundation: My work is concerned with humans, energies and environments. How do humans know themselves to be human? Can I articulate the ways that humans establish their places individually and collectively within their environments? Is there an individual heroism in the struggle to establish truly self-made world view? Can I use a visual language that is equally based in image, materiality and process, to describe the visceral and rational ways used by humans build their human identity?
I make two dimensional works and textiles that employ strong underlying structures and patch-worked canvases in order to convey a clearly evident means of construction. The works contemplate energy and environment using layers and transparencies, incorporating a depth of materials and a collage of discrete processes. Textiles, wood, wax, and found materials are collaged together using tapestry, felting, silkscreen, weaving, surface painting, wood-working and embroidery. Each material, each process, lends a unique and strong voice to this collaged chorus. And there is a relentless consistency of intent to this combining and recombining. Namely, it is the search for a significantly defining connection between the way that I sense, and the way that I come to understand the human and natural energies at play in my environment.
Firmly planted in the real and contemporary world; I want to observe and speak with the authenticity and detail of known experience while retaining an unrehearsed amateurism that may leave a concept uncompleted or a question open-ended. Specifically, while using well-established processes, I want the finished collage to retain this sense of the amateur allowing a naïve yet sensitive criticism of the traditions of its making.
Weaving, felting, screening, painting, or wood-working; my interdisciplinary practice has a serious co-dependency issue. I collage tapestries into my painting: I brush paint onto my tapestries. Simply framed, I respect no point of separation between fine art and craft and this back-and-forth, crisscross is clearly evident in all of my work. Like a strange lean-to, the disciplines prop each other up, in a firm but completely co-reliant structure. There are chinks in the armor: the disciplines yield cracks that serve to let the light in and allow each to fill in the interstices of the other. A clarifying richness of meaning through both material and process allows the codependence to develop, spreading in unexpected ways and blurring the lines between tacit and intellectual understanding.
I have an awareness of the “normal science” of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, likewise the “clearing (Lichtung)” of Martin Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art and further the “power relations” of Michael Foucault’s archaeological/genealogical methods emphasizing the evolution of discourse in society. These three philosophical avenues lead me towards a visual art-making that explores the realism of a somewhat larger reality. Edging close to romanticism and the sublime, my work barely clings to a representational realism, insisting that whatever apparently strange forces surround me, they are entirely mediated by my sensing and rationalizing of a fully existent reality. This is where the materiality of my practice enters: through the mediation of materials and process, I hope to articulate an almost unconscious awareness of natural and social pressures that are just beyond my vision, just beyond my grasp.
A fibre-laden painting studio practice leads the way, pushing the boundaries of my collages to an outrageous and almost unsustainable extent. Herein lies the key to both consolidating theory and exposing/eliminating the unessential. Woodwork, weaving, tapestry, silkscreen, embroidery, surface painting: these are all employed in works that remain insistently 2-dimesional. (I hope to someday explore this 2-dimensional restriction in terms of the “open-end”; the work existing within a larger reality.)
Since graduating in 2013 with a BFA, my trajectory has included residencies, group and solo exhibitions in both not-for-profit and commercial galleries. Working in series, I have continued to explore material-and-image based processes. Full new post-graduation series include, Tales from the Maple Forest, Mid-Century Modern, Landscape for a Good Woman, Between the Swan and Hercules, Just to Say Hello, ShadowWoven, Filters for a World Made of Steel, and On Cotton Rag. A previous thirty year career in civil engineering included construction, maintenance and troubleshooting in the oil&gas, the pulp&paper and the mining industries of Western Canada. Creative, collaborative, large scale three-dimensional projects that are fully integrated into a concrete, physical reality; this has defined my “normal” for the past thirty years. The landscape of western Canada is littered with real-world monuments to which I have leant my strength. Now is the time to clarify and focus my individual voice by defining a solid personal language that is visual, verbal and written. Engineering, craft, art, or construction; these are solid things. The near-term-ephemeral is the antithesis of my practice. “Build an object as though it were to last a thousand years and as if one were to die tomorrow” is an old, and probably completely un-hip and un-cool Shaker dictum.
And exit through the gift shop: it is a small thing, really; it is just a way of seeing. I combine some philosophical methods and the strong traditions of painting and fibre craft media within an applied artistic methodology to orchestrate a chorus of cultural criticism. It is a practice that has been continually building over the four years of my BFA degree at ACAD and the subsequent two years of practice. At this point, the voices are still disjointed and unfocussed; however, I can see that there exists a path ahead, where I can build a strong voice within a community of critical makers. To this work I bring energy, optimism, a brief history of art practice and a surfeit of life experience. How can my interest in humans, energies and environments which I describe through a collage of materiality and process contribute truly new knowledge or truly original research? My best hope is to defacto normalize a robust and equal conversation between fine craft and fine art. It is my intent to lead by doing; through visual artworks and written/spoken words, to add a clear new note into the harmony (or dis-harmony) of the chorus.