My work explores the concept of the self, the I. "I am blank" is a phrase that is unavoidable. We classify and name everything. It’s confusing. I am a doctor. I am a mother. I am a golfer. I am gay. I am an artist. I am popular. I am a wife. I am depressed. I am smart. I am rich. I am kind. Classifications can be past, present, or future tense. I am going to be rich. I was a good mother. All of this classification of ourselves and of others of us causes us to lose ourselves in the very classifications that were meant to comfort and protect us. These classifications become our identity. Not only do we forget who we are without them but some of us crumble when, inevitably, our classification might change unexpectedly or, even, expectedly.
When our context moves, we immediately and desperately reach for new self-classifications. Ones we can live with. Ones that we like telling others. It is locked within the changes of these long held self-beliefs or expectations that immense emotional suffering is borne. The sudden or eventual realization that you are not an artist, popular, smart, or rich, or won't be or were never causes suffering. A simple change in expectation vis a vis an expected future I am can, ironically, cause the most suffering.
When the viewer looks at one of my pieces, many of which are faces, I hope for them to feel this identity-seeking frustration. Their eyes will naturally try to complete the face. To fill in missing features. To make it whole and clear they pursue a coalescing of the pieces into something coherent. Naturally, they will zoom in and find patterns. Some will be pleasing and others more disruptive. Each will be explored and their eyes will barely stay on one before jumping to the next, mimicking the thought patterns of those whose minds jump from thought to thought, from I am to I am, from I am not to I am not. Eventually, the viewer will, again, zoom back out in an attempt to make sense of the whole. This is the same process we use when trying to find clarity in ourselves. In and out, again and gain. A frustrating process that is never-ending.
Time and context are the unappreciated variables. As context changes, the I changes. As time changes the I changes. We are always chasing this clarity that is never to be found. Frustration will endure and this art is meant to mimic this frustration. In life, this frustration can result in anxiety, depression, self-destructive thoughts, or suicide depending on the size of the context that changes the self viewed I. My objective, however, is certainly not to cause a sustained negative state. Instead, it is to guide viewers to reach a place of surrender. Where they stop searching and just are. A place of calm, confidence, love, and joy. My hope as an artist is that some might identify with a piece, experience the emotions of frustration and anxiety, and then let go. To surrender. To feel calm and simply appreciate the beauty. Those who surrender and feel awe are the ones I know I touched and make it all worthwhile. This path is the wellspring of freedom and the cure to much emotional pain.