Tell us about your background.
I was born in West Palm Beach, Florida but am a native Pennsylvanian who found his way to Boston in the Fall of 2011. I have received a BFA in Sculpture with a minor in Philosophy from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and have participated in Virginia Commonwealth Universities Summer Intensive Studio session focusing mainly on the intersection of performance, video and object making.
Name some people, artists, artistic genres, etc. that have been influential in your
When I first started working sculpturally I was very drawn to process oriented and site-specific artists whose work would hold deep psychological and philosophical meanings. Richard Serra, Rachel Whiteread, James Turrell and Do Ho Suh all come to mind. Pieces such as Turrell’s “Meeting” at PS1, Rachel Whiteread’s “ Nine Tables” and Do Ho Suh’s “Seoul Home / New York Home” all have a special place in my vocabulary. What these artists have in common is the exploration of the concept of space, and how that relationally affects us. I was very drawn to that. I began to think more of how not only space affects me, but what happens when time intersects these very complex ideas.
After attending the VCU summer seminar I was introduced to a few very influential people, namely performance artist Nigel Rolfe and sculptor Janine Harkleroad, who’s regular studio visits, critiques and reading lists turned my idea of sculpture on its head. I was suddenly making work that was thoroughly different from past work, breaking into the realm of performance and video. Books such as “Relational Aesthetics” by Nicolas Bourriaud, “Psychogeography” by Merlin Coverley, “Liquid Times” by Zygmunt Bauman and “Air Guitar” by Dave Hickey are all readings that ignited this departure.
I cannot leave Bruce Nauman and Martin Heidegger out of this section, being as they are two of the greatest influences in my current investigations.
Where and how do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from many different parts of my life, as I have many hobbies that I can barely keep up with. I play guitar, am constantly cooking, brew my own beer, play sports and recently have taken up long distance running. I have found it to be one of the greatest philosophical pursuits I have ever encountered. When I run I am quite literally defining my existence at that given moment in time and space by tracking each individual step and leaving behind tracks of my physicality. My recent work is exploring the notion of “Being-There”, a concept from Martin Heidegger. When you run a marathon, for instance, your body becomes almost blank, machine-like, while your mind is working at double time. You focus on breathing, steps, muscle failures, strides, past, present and future. You realize where you started but also realize you are no longer there. You understand there is a finish and it is a fathomable thing, but since the future may not necessarily exist, how can the finish line also? It is a classic philosophical example. How is it possible that if you understand what the words “golden” and “mountain” mean, that you can make up in your mind the idea of a “golden mountain”? This is profoundly interesting to me. I think a lot about how these things define my “Being.”
I have also done an extensive amount of traveling since finishing my undergrad and I can’t help but think that being in and experiencing a lot of various places has a lot to do with where these ideas and concepts come from as well. My most recent explorations, such as an ongoing performance “Where-I-Am”, are addressing these themes. How an action performed at different places in different times challenges the ideas of time, place, space and familiarity.
I try my best to stay well versed in contemporary art and philosophy and pull as much influence from my surroundings as possible as well. I am fascinated by everyday normal actions and experiences, mundane or extraordinary.
What materials do you work with? Describe your technical processes.
I have run the gamut in various materials including bronze, wax, plaster, clay, wood, paper, etc. Recently I have become more interested in video and performance, which usually result in installation based work.
My technical process has changed somewhat over the years. For a while I was working quite stubbornly, thinking way to extensively about material language and whether my choice for certain objects were valid. Recently I have been much more susceptible to failure in my work. I will do a lot of tests, shoot little snippets of video, make something and then destroy it, etc. Do something common and try to figure out if it has some sort of grandeur. At the end of these tests I contemplate what I have done and how it actually becomes work. It is just like keeping a sketchbook to me, for instance my fingers are moving in space typing this sentence just as a pencil draws a line, both are documentations but with different outcomes. Since I am so interested in gestures of the body, I draw a lot of inspiration from my own body quos, such as banging my head up against a wall, or a simple snap of the finger.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being creative? What is the
best part of being creative?
The best part of being creative is having an active mind and living in a constant state of contemplation. Funny enough, I find that this is also the most challenging part. Sometimes it is easy to over think things, like why simple gestures like a handclap can suddenly become a stand-in for existential philosophy. But the journey and pursuit of knowledge is extremely exciting to me. This is why I make things, because idea becomes form.
What advice would you give to someone seeking advice about being an artist?
Art is visual philosophy; there are no limits in creation. In art 2+2 can very well equal 5 and that is exciting. Do not limit yourself to what you can do. Explore different mediums and ideas, read as much theory as you can. Visit museums and galleries because without a sense of what is going on from your contemporaries it will be like living in a vacuum. Give your eyes something to taste. Set yourself up for failure and find solitude in the act of creation and not the final outcome, it is here where most of your work may lie.
Nigel Rolfe once told me to stop making work from my brain and start making work from my gut. This is probably the most influential thing I have ever had said to me to this day regarding my work. Perhaps you can think about that one a little as well.
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