Still Life Images
My still life and object images are reflections of anxiety and fears, and I view them as an extension of my previous work investigating self-portraiture and the human condition. I feel as though I am making art that I cannot adequately voice.
This body of work is an interpretation of vanitas still life images imbued with a dark sense of humor. Contemporary memento mori images, the objects are related to contemporary life, and primarily consist of skulls, unread or unfinished books, children’s toys, empty beer bottles and cans, or scrabble tiles. The small and intimate scale forces the viewer to approach and inspect the artwork closely, examine the details, and consider the labor involved. I find creating artwork to be contemplative and self-reflexive, and the scale imparts that experience onto the viewer. The mood is bleak, and there is a pessimism that borders on the nihilistic. A general sense of ennui permeates the work as I struggle to find my place and inject meaning into my life while examining the overwhelming presence of my failures as a husband, a father/provider, an artist, and an educator. The divisiveness and binary nature of contemporary American politics begins to infiltrate my art adding to a general sense of helplessness and hopelessness. It is not simply my place in the universe that I am concerned with, but what the future holds for my children. I am overcome by our current economic system, and the acknowledgement of the depressing reality that I cannot provide a better life for my children than my parents were able to give me. What kind of world are they going to inherit? What opportunities will be available to them?
Part of my exploration within these images involves the limitations of language. Words are imperfect and can lead to confusion. The images are designed to be open-ended and accessible, to invite contemplation, subvert expectations, and welcome individual experiences with various readings and interpretations.
I am particularly influenced by some of the writings of John Baldesarri and the Romanian philosopher E.M. Cioran. Chiefly, Baldessari’s fascination with people’s desire to imbue things with meaning, and how meaning happens when objects are placed within close proximity. Cioran’s writing about pessimism and nihilism, specifically themes alienation, despair, and futility have had a solidifying effect on my own thoughts. The diversity of these two influences and ideas are not linear, and oftentimes exist as interlocking and overlapping (possibly even contradictory) threads.