What is my work about?
In the intervening spaces of cities, landscapes, and rooms, where dirt and dust gather forgetfully, I find moments of contemplation and possibilities of awakening new ways of seeing. The most humble of things contain within them the seeds of transcendence. A sprig from a bush accidentally becomes a great adventurer, crossing the country stuck to the back of a train-hopper. Poetic connections arise between travels. I reflect on the way these incidental and grand encounters inform each other. My works are manifestations of my discoveries.
Last year I hopped a freight train from Minneapolis to Seattle. We cut through the Cascade Mountains in the longest train tunnel in America, an eight-mile stretch of pitch-blackness. Barreling through this endless, dark tunnel makes you feel suspended in time, outside your body. This liminal space begins with a portal, which simply looks like a black, arched shape on the side of a mountain. I now see that shape everywhere but think of it differently. It marks a potential inner space, and an entry into something impossible to enter. So when I install an outlet over a photograph, I see those grounding holes as a way to enter the picture.
This was the discovery of a shape, ubiquitous in art, architecture, and design, yet somehow, has become personal to me. When I encounter it in a manhole cover, or as a lost heel on the sidewalk, it connects me to my surroundings, conjuring personal associations and memories with the incidental forms that house the shape. I find sanctity in this mental space. It gives rise to connections between physical material and the psyche, an effect I want my artwork to produce. The form of Grounding Holes is an embellishment of an outlet, enlarged and installed at eye-level, so that the space protruding past the wall can be more easily inhabited. Those outlet arches keep me in check. They remind me that this headspace can be found even in the edges of a room. It is no wonder their function, in real conditions, is to keep a plug from exploding.
The activity of looking, itself, is as important as what can be seen. I consider how we embody mental fixations, so that we adopt a different way of seeing. Last year I became fixated on a photograph I found beneath my bed. The image was in my thoughts constantly, emblematic of seeing a person, everywhere, in the face of others. The photograph became a projection of the mind. As I experimented with printed material in the studio, the image manifested in the work. In Under My Bed, On My Brain (On-going), a figure is seen in and outside the edges of photographs, digital artifacts, and trash. The figure is present even in its absence. Photography implies this absence, as well as a particular vantage point or fixed perspective. I use these attributes to manipulate perceptions in Weather Chairs. Both images are skewed, one inside the frame, and the other outside. In the right image (Weather Chairs #2), I bent the chair’s frame, so that when photographed from above, the chair appears correct, but its surroundings look off-kilter. In the other image (Weather Chairs #1), the frame of the photograph itself is warped, causing the edges of the gallery to look off. These two photographs present a familiar scene of an empty chair, calling a viewer to enter and sit, become inhospitable.
This past winter I had my backpack stolen. As an unconventional traveler, my backpack often functions as a studio, full of notes, collected objects, and pictures on film. By the time it was taken from me, it had become much more than a simple backpack. It was a unique object, a companion, and space for thinking. In the midst of mourning the bag, I took a trip and encountered a sign at the airport that seemed to be speaking directly to me. It was a PSA poster proclaiming, “Sometimes a bag, isn’t just a bag.” To me, the poster suggested something other than its intent to alert potential harm. It was a philosophical provocation, a familiar statement in art, and a personal message reconfirming my feelings for this object. In this way, the poster exemplifies its message. This sentiment courses through the objects I consider and the raw materials I gather. A formerly used bandana, in Vision in a Rag, is imagined as a frame containing one’s reflection, like a pond. Materials, common as dirt, become specific forms that delay material identification. The objects I produce contain moments that stop a viewer, encouraging them to re-align themselves with what they see.
I returned to the darkness of that train tunnel in a recent work. Over the past two months, I have been converting found boxes, cardboard, and trash into theoretical pinhole cameras (A Hole You Can See In). The heap of boxes, contained by a steel shelving unit, is littered with holes that allow a viewer to peer into different, yet identical, pitch-black spaces. Sometimes a bag isn’t just a bag, and the same applies here. The boxes fluctuate between trash, tool, image, and sculpture. They stop short of being cameras. Most of the holes are too big and the proportions are off, preventing them from producing a legible picture. In some cases the holes are big enough to suggest more of an entrance, or a glory hole perhaps. Not quite pinhole cameras, no longer just boxes, I see them as all the above: recycled cardboard, handmade devices for seeing, and sculptures that materialize complete darkness.
MFA, New York University Steinhardt; New York, NY
BFA, Minneapolis College of Art & Design; Minneapolis, MN
Accademia di Belle Arti; Florence, Italy
A Hole You Can Walk In; Sun Ray Gallery; Oakland, CA
Palm Trees, Beaches, Bushes & Benches; Art of This; Minneapolis, MN
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
NYU MFA Thesis Exhibition; 80WSE Gallery; New York, NY
Nobody Died Last Year; 80WSE Gallery; New York, NY
Kunstverein Hannover; Art IG; Hannover, GE
Everything at Once; Antenna; New Orleans, LA
Jerome Fellowship Exhibition 2010/11; MCAD; Minneapolis, MN
Nostalgic Logic; Studio Deep End; Milwaukee, WI
Hot Off The; Pop-up Publishing House at The Soap Factory; Minneapolis, MN
Objectophilia; Biennial of Americas; Denver, Colorado
Artists-in-Residence Exhibition; Center for Icelandic Arts, Reykjavík, Iceland
New Work by MCBA/Jerome Foundation Mentorship Artists; MCBA, Minneapolis, MN
The Sensual World; Synchronicity Space, Los Angeles, CA
Systems and Concepts; Sound Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Open Door 4; Rosalux Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Commencement Exhibition; MCAD
AWARDS / FELLOWSHIPS
Samuel May Rudin Fellowship NYU MFA
Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists 2010-2011
Artist Initiative Grant; Minnesota State Arts Board
Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Jerome Foundation Artist Mentorship
VanDerlip Achievement Award; MCAD Fine Arts Recipient
Colorado Art Ranch; Salida, Colorado
SIM Artist Residency; Reykjavik, Iceland
Nes Artist Residency; Skagastrond, Iceland