“Artists are philosophers that make things.” At least that is the way one of my graduate advisors once put it. But, I have come to realize that artists are much more than just philosophers – they are historians, scientists, anthropologists and critics. My process as an artist begins by being a careful observer of the world. Typically my gaze falls not upon a thing, but on the areas with culture and society converge. Then with a critical eye I choose to comment on some aspect of the world in a didactic manner. Media is almost a secondary choice, because my selection of materials is contingent on the message. Often I choose to work photographically, but sculpture, installation, painting, book making, collage, film and digital art are areas where my work gravitates as well. Recently, I have been expanding my repertoire to include theatrical works, including a recently produced historical play about the Korean War.
Thematically, my work often explores the “fallibility of memory” and the “identity of the artist as cultural anthropologist.” These two areas have been with me for some time (or have they). After receiving my bachelor’s degree I began to experiment with building cameras to create images with pictorial qualities unique to the device. This idea has found its way into several different permeations in my work for almost two decades. But, originally this work, which was prompted by poetry I was writing at the time, explored how the absence of detail and soft edges create a mythical looking image that visually represents a nearly forgotten memory. Subsequent work has shown that the device itself can dictate the way a photographer creates images. From time to time I will retire a camera, obtain a new one and make art in complete opposition to how I was just working. This mode of production has taken me down many different routes on my journey as an artist and my work is being continuously being redefined from project to project.
Usually, I have my hands in multiple pots at once and like to create work on opposite ends of the spectrum simultaneously. So, while working with nineteenth century processes I will also work digitally. Or, in a time of crafting fine prints I will also make loose mixed-media works. This interplay creates a living dichotomy where my view of the world is challenged to come at an argument from multiple sides. And, throughout this multifaceted method of investigation I tend to collect items along the way that over time reveal themselves as new roads to follow. It is natural for photographers to capture what strikes them in the moment. Then when similar moments appear and reappear over time, a direction comes about that may have never been sought at the onset. This does require a good deal of self-evaluation – of examining the evidences of observation and trying to make sense of it all – much like an anthropologist takes the relics of culture and recreates the structure of a society. Embracing this notion of photographer as collector has also prompted me to gather culturally significant items for the specific purpose of “sorting things out.” But cultural significance may come manifest in off the beaten path alleyways, in trash discarded in the streets, or it could be contained in the actions of people in relationship to the world around them.
Therefore I look, I listen, I observe and I hear. Artwork I create addresses time as it passes and the imprint of people on history. It is responsive to time, functioning as an ongoing exploration of life and living. My work is my musing on the world, and I am a collector of experience.