Tell us about your background.
I’m from Washington DC. I left at age sixteen, acquiring my AA from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 2003. I later pocketed my BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University in the winter of 2007. I’m currently pursuing my MFA in painting at Penn State.
Name some people, artists, artistic genres, etc. that have been influential in your work.
Jenny Saville’s corpulent bodies, Egon Schiele’s sawtooth bodies, Michelangelo’s bodies with musculature like “bags of nuts”; hagiographical imagery (saints in ecstasy); the musical projects of Mike Patton; the visceral, horrifying, and beautiful in work by Kara Walker, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Alina Szapocznikow, and Kiki Smith. I like to read Toni Morrison, Georges Bataille, and Umberto Eco. Genres that interest me are Magical Realism and Ero Guro Nansensu.
Where and how do you get your ideas?
I look at my friends. I think about them. I ruminate a long time over their faces, their voices, their physiognomy, and their meaning in my life. Their idiosyncrasies, the way the inhabit their bodies, and the specificity of their forms supply me with all my ideas. People are impossibly complex and very magical.
What materials do you work with? Describe your technical processes.
I use 51″x10yd 156 LB Arches watercolor paper. It comes on a roll, so I pin a big tract of it to the wall. To flatten it, I put a watercolor wash over it, and this sets a precedent or ground of tone for me to draw into. I begin every drawing with vine charcoal. Once I’ve made something of a blueprint, I get my pastels. I use pastels of a few brands – Neocolor, Rembrandt, and my favorite, Diane Townsend Terrages pastels. I block in areas of light first, and from there the language of the color begins to write itself.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being creative? What is the best part of being creative?
Art-making becomes hardest for me when I dizzy myself with my own argument – that is, when I overthink an image not yet made, or talk myself out of every idea I come up with. It seems it’s better just to ‘put pencil to paper’ and make. It may fail but it can always be another rung on the ladder to some actualization. I love creating because it populates my world with “people” (what are really just images thereof, ha). Making a drawing is a testimony to the depicted, to the body, and to all humanness. That expels some kind of pain from me, and makes me feel happy and real.
What advice would you give to someone seeking advice about being an artist?
Chin up. If you have something to say, knead it, grow it, gird it with research, look behind you, and work all the time. Learn how to be with people and how to speak. If you keep your work close to your heart, its meaning can never atrophy.
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