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Painting: Oil, Paint on Canvas.
Slipping in and out of the familiar through abstract mark making, I draw parallels between nature and human nature in my paintings.
In this series, relating to undersea, my paint application ranges from thin tentacle-shell-like strokes to thick juicy braining of clustered marks. These shapes coalesce into reef-scape, eventually dissipating into abstract impressions. My goal is for viewers to encounter their inner realities by engaging the work's limbo state.
Within this innate reflection, I hope to resonate biophilia, the genetic affinity for nature. Within the idea of biophilia, the experience of different life-cycles in nature promotes the value of life within ourself, others, and self-organizing things. Using my experiences growing up around ocean life, I amalgamate the alien life-cycles of coral reefs presenting an alterity for viewers to experience.
With this experience I aim to question the different oscillations life can exist at, and in turn, the potential fears and inspirations, the knowns and unknowns the observers might meet in that context. This interaction mirrors the sublime that landscape painting aspires to.
My neighbor gave me his 25 gallon saltwater reef filled tank when I was 16. I had no idea how to keep it alive, but I found it natural to care for live-rock, corals, fish, and weird critters that came inside.
I loved the colors. I remember the light glowed a weird color — pink with blue painted over it, but it wasn’t purple. The green transparencies of the soft corals shined in that light, and the purple growth blushed over the live-rock. The white sand echoed the reflections of all these tones constantly moving in a sedated time. The hues breathed and lived at a different speed from the tempo outside the tank.
There was an underlying current that reigned over the speed in the tank. The fish, crabs, anemones, corals, shrimp, starfish, slugs, tube worms — everything abided by the flow. As I watched I drifted into this movement. My breath never rushed, my muscles - buoyant, and my mind projected into each creature. I forgot I breathed air and lived beyond that glass. I sat at the edge of my bed mesmerized. For 2-3 hours every night, I abandoned my own rhythms. I lost myself to the aquarium.
I learned to resonate this underwater world, projecting myself into a slower environment, and with no direct communication available the only option for me was to be. I quietly observed everything. I cleaned, fed, and preserved salt and nutrition levels to keep this space alive. The world existed outside, but I became infatuated with this little space. Life sustained differently behind the glass, and it shifted how I sustained life in me. I protected these 3 cubic feet because within them I had access to a rare space-time I couldn’t travel to any other way.
When the algae grass grew long I would pluck it, but when it became overgrown the man at the pet store sold me a slug to eat it. The ugly slug did wonders! It cleaned better than I could. Once the habitat was clean the slug had one last duty, which the pet store man conveniently left out. The slugs last mission — to release a toxin that would kill it and everything else in the tank. I came home to find all but two fish and one shrimp belly up. To save what remained, I gave them to a friend to quarantine in his fish tank. The end of my time spent in the aquarium had come.
Years after this I would have a recurring dream where I discovered my fish tank post-slug suicide. The water, at half level stagnated with dead fish and coral. The rest of the dream I would be saving the aquarium, but this time by keeping what survived. In the dream I wanted to rebuild this space-time instead of give up on it.
I miss projecting into this sacred space. I miss resonating in slow oscillation. I miss the luminescence. I miss forgetting that I live outside in the air. So now I paint. I reconnect with those still moments, vibrating my memories into every painting. The 3 cubic feet are now expanded across the square feet of canvas. The cadence, feeling, discovery, colors, patterns, texture, and movement amalgamate to exist in the moments I create from. The wet paint carries these thoughts and experiences fossilizing them for viewers to explore.
Size: 36 W x 42 H x 2 in
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