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My art helps me question everyday judgments and the social bubbles in which we live. It seems that no matter where I go, I find people who are like me. We have a magnetic attraction and form a group or “bubble.” We then tend to see everyone outside that bubble as “other.” I am most interested in bringing that “other” into the viewer’s space through my artwork. However, I acknowledge that those who I consider “other” would not necessarily be so to someone else. So even as I hope to shed light on the viewers’ judgments, I must reveal my own.
I choose these subjects because of my mother, who almost never seems to judge. She listens to other people and wholeheartedly wants to learn who they are whether it is the doormen at the hotel, the Middle Eastern taxi driver, or the tatted-up hairdresser. To quote a cliché, she does not “judge a book by its cover.” Appearance is your first impression, but unfortunately, many times it is your last. How do you know someone’s story without asking and how can you form an opinion without knowing?
I find beauty in difference. I am very interested in creepiness. Given people’s responses, I have often referred to my figures as “Creepers.” The first painting in this series is On the M Train, a painting of a man with an unsettling glare and his hand in his pants. I also have a haunting portrait of an old woman entitled Someone’s Babushka. But not all of them are creepy. I find the gaze to be the most important aspect of my paintings and the confrontational nature of their stance or stare. Even in works where you cannot see the eyes, I think you can still feel them. Most of my earlier paintings used appropriated, readymade images as reference points, but I later began using images of people I saw and photographed. Having met these people, I feel more of a connection to the work I create.
My paintings are large-scale oil and charcoal paintings. I enjoy the raw color of linen and often leave my paintings somewhat unfinished. For me, once the important areas of information are given, the rest is decoration. It is simultaneously finished and unfinished. I want to tell people a story. I want to tell people’s stories. I will give you some information, but not everything. Who do you think they are?
The inspiration for my entire body of work began with my fascination with Èdouard Manet. His painting style and avant-garde subject matter changed my thought process in painting. I am also in debt to Alice Neel and Marlene Dumas who have both mastered the art of, what I call, “finished/unfinished.” Studying these artists has helped me find my path in my original concept and techniques, but I am fascinated with why we are the way we are and the human brain. It is a strange thing. I want to tell people a story. I want to tell people’s stories. I will give you some information, but not everything. Who do you think they are?