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Collage: Photo, Paper, Digital on Other, Paper.
One year ago I moved 1005 miles from my home in Indianapolis to my new South Florida address, which coincidentally is also, 1005. The subsequent work I have created features appropriated, vintage male figures all of whom I consider to be portraits of myself in various stages of flux. My newest piece In Exodus features a single repeated image of a man performing a handstand on a beach and symbolizes my geographical migration to Florida. The move from my birth place has given me many challenges and insights into my life as an artist. I equate these trials and triumphs with the exertion of a handstand; an acrobatic feat that takes practice, strength, determination, balance, precision and at any moment can come crashing down.
I have had a relationship to the handstand from an early age. As a young boy I have vivid memories of my neighbor, Mr. Novotany walking on his hands from one end of his expansive yard to the other. I was mesmerized and impressed by this display of physical mastery and endurance as the neighborhood kids cheered him on. In elementary school I was involved in gymnastics and was chosen to demonstrate a handstand for the physical education bulletin board outside the gymnasium. The gym teacher captured my handstand in profile using a Polaroid camera. It depicted the slight bend in my back and street clothes consisting of untucked shirttails and black hightop Reeboks with dangling purple laces. As a child I felt like somewhat of a celebrity having my name and image on the board and found a way to pass by the photo several times a day. Now as an adult I continue to demonstrate my balancing abilities in my yoga practice. The yoga pose Adho Mukha Vrksasana, better known as Handstand, is an epic feat of strength, grace, courage, and beauty and is very difficult to master.
The base layers of In Exodus consist of a vintage road maps of south florida, handwritten letters of correspondence & envelops, grocery & gas receipts, and sheet music. These items of ephemera harken back to a specific time and place and represent a Midwestern nostalgia from my upbringing. They are paired with a series of handwritten orange signs and symbols that were once used by newspaper editors to communicate to designers how an image was to be cropped, masked and placed within the newspaper layout before going to press. I have adopted and adapted this outdated dictionary of mark-making for my own artwork to represent my personal coded language as a photographer and image maker.
Upon completion of the piece I was immediately reminded of Andy Warhol’s famous screen print of a gun-toting Elvis sidestepping across a larger than life canvas. My figures have the same high contrast, scratchy quality as the famous artwork on a much smaller scale. However, while Warhol dealt with high-profile subjects, my figures are far removed from celebrity and consequently have the obscurity of the common man.
This piece ultimately represents my precarious emotional and artistic journey into an uncharted chapter of my life. Traveling from point A to point B can be a defining journey full of ‘handstand’ moments in which attempt great feats of strength and find harmony, instability or both.
Artist featured by Saatchi Art in a collection