To purchase the printed issue of Art Reveal Magazine click here.
Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Writing, running, music, conversation, relationships with other artists, I try to consume as much as I can when I’m not painting. All of this keeps me motivated and stimulated to continue creating. Reading is the main one. I try to treat it like it’s part of my job to read every day. I’m able to solve problems, overcome blocks, and find inspiration, whether it’s Bird by Bird, on the creative writing process, Born to Run, about the ancient culture of runners in Mexico, or The Invention of Nature, about the early environmental scientist Alexander Humboldt. Something I once read by Hemingway in Moveable Feast, that I actively use every day in the studio, is how he said he would only leave his type writer for the day when he knew exactly what he would write next. That way he could pick it back up fluidly the next morning. I try to do that with painting, to stop when I know exactly what comes next.
What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Self-discipline is a challenge for anyone who works for themselves. Self-discipline in sticking to your own schedule, and also in social media consumption. In order to stay relevant on this brilliant platform, which is responsible for many artists’ success in reaching a massive audience all on their own, one must interact and engage on a regular basis. But to do what we do, to create, we must be completely unplugged mentally. They’re such opposite concepts, so balancing all of it to get work done and stay engaged in the virtual community is one of the largest challenges of a modern artist. And maintaining the well of confidence, making sure it doesn’t fall too low, learning how to nourish it But I’m realizing that the internal battle never fully goes away, you just get better at managing it.
In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I believe art has a very unique role in contemporary culture, in that we are living in an age of unnatural immediacy, and exponential advances in technology that we’ve not dealt with before. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, which doesn’t seem to be slowing down in development, creativity may be the last fully human frontier. Personally, I crave the tangible, I want to see the human hand in the work. Perfection is saturating our world: digital everything, advertising, seeing only everyone’s best face on instagram, photoshop, plastic surgery, etc. Paralleling all of this is the rise in mental instability including anxiety, depression, and isolation. I think my generation is looking to grasp something real, to educate ourselves on how we consume, food and knowledge, and to connect with eachother in more meaningful ways. I believe art can help keep us tethered to our roots and stability as humans. Looking at our history, we’ve declared our prehistoric ancestors as fully developed humans as soon as we found their cave paintings! There is nothing more human than creating. It is what has set us apart from our ancient animal relatives, and I believe it will continue to set us apart as our world propels forward. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Charleston, SC has been a wonderful place for me to develop the beginning stages of my practice. There is natural beauty everywhere, space to breathe, and loads of other individuals who are here appreciating the same. I can see that the art scene has been a bit stagnant in the recent past, the immediate surroundings depicted in paintings and not much else, for example. Recently, however, I am seeing a profound contemporary art scene emerge here, and it’s being well received. Because Charleston is now home to so many people from other places, new influences and ideas have enriched the contemporary culture here. Artists are taking risks, and I feel a sense of growth and stimulation around me, feeding my own work and development.
Name three artists you admire. Well this is a challenge to narrow to three! Joseph Lee (josephleeart.com) is a Korean-American artist living in LA, and his work just slaps you in the face with his heavy oil paint knife strokes and dysfunctional undertones. Paul Cristina (paulcristina.com) is a Charleston artist I admire immensely for his fearless depictions of human behavior. Heather Day (heatherday.com) is an artist in San Francisco who captures a sensory interpretation of her physical world, and her evolution has been beyond inspiring to watch. Other fearless contemporaries include Chrissy Angliker, Adrian Ghenie, Conrad Jon Godly, Salman Khoshroo, Alexa Meade, and Janne Robinson.
What are your future plans? I’m currently working on a series of large evocative figures and portraits for an exhibition in the fall at the Grand Bohemian Gallery in Charleston. A project that I am also developing is a series of works depicting some of the most resilient individuals I’ve had the honor of having in my life, since moving to Charleston. This will be a series of large palette knife portraits of the Veterans and individuals involved with the Warrior Surf Foundation (warriorsurf.org), a non-profit that offers surf therapy, camaraderie, and wellness to Veterans and their families. I’ve had the privilege of watching lives take a complete 180 turn based on the offerings of this non-profit, and I can’t think of a better way to honor the enduring strength of these individuals, some of which have lived through experiences that most cannot begin to fathom. I’m also excited about an upcoming collaboration with Sam Rueter (srueterart.com) in which we will be creating a large live body painting installation depicting the concept of “slash and burn” complete with an elaborate setting of ash and decay, evolving into a lush and vibrant setting of rebirth. This will take place during a large event in Charleston in September.