Below are examples of my fine art work
Hatred Driven Hence
I began work on Hatred Driven Hence roughly 10 years ago. At loose ends after dropping out of a graduate program and struggling with self-worth and severe depression, I felt caught between who I was and who I thought I should be, with every action and choice painfully measured for whether it would justify my existence. During this time, though, as a heretofore self-taught artist, there were a few pieces that I kept returning to, which became guideposts in moving towards a wholehearted life. The three flowers shown here, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), sweet violet (Viola odorata), and wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), represent the indivisible intertwining of grace and tenacity in my personal floriography. They appear unbidden, wild, colonizing inhospitable urban landscapes or returning to disrupt the most diligently herbicided lawn. Though the universe is cold, large, and indifferent, life is just life: There is no deliberate maliciousness, and things of great beauty will be given unearned and unasked to those with the courage to hang on. While this imagery was deeply personal to me, the ability to dig in and keep growing—and to remember that the only will is self-will—is something that many will need over the coming years when battles are lost and the fight feels all but knocked out of us.
I consider the full title for this piece an excerpt from William Butler Yeats’ A Prayer for My Daughter:
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
Hatred Driven Hence appeared on the cover of the February 2017 issue of CATALYST Magazine.
The Patient is the One with the Disease
Life-Support, Water, and the Southwest
My aim with this project was to create a metaphor that makes visible the way that civilization requires using scarce water resources in the southwest to create a fictionalized landscape—lawn. This project was originally installed on UNM’s campus between Johnson Gym and Popejoy Hall. This “natural” plot of land is a laboriously constructed as the surrounding buildings and plazas; the fact that the construction materials are living things themselves does not change this fact. Spaces like this are created in the more obviously built environs to provide for human renewal within the hectic pace of civilized life, and to allow for a connection to something large and vital.
But this vitality is a myth. Like a patient with grave injuries, this landscape can neither provide nor renew on its own. Supportive measures must be taken to keep the life-functions clocking along—hidden underneath the ground is an extensive watering system that keeps the grass on life-support.
While I intended this metaphor to be humorous, if darkly so, I think it relates to larger issues of mental un-wellness—even good and evil—in society at large. Insanity is a disconnection between the self and the world-as-it-is, but a particular pitfall for our culture is to override this disconnection by forcing the world to conform to how we think it should be without considering the benefits and opportunities presented by what is. This psychological flaw is the root of many grave social and environmental issues, and one that we, as a society, insist on watering.
Click play, then click 'YouTube' to see all thirteen videos.
Not Empty Handed
For this work, I created a ritual that would touch on a larger, almost spiritual concept, that of relationship. Ritual not only gives us the ability to invite in that which is psychologically nourishing, but can be used to bar that which is harmful. Relationship occurs on a continuum of connection and control, and I wanted something that would give me the chance to interact with strangers as well as those I know, and invite them to form a temporary connection outside of the barriers of my usual boundaries. To visualize this process, I and the other participant each put a glove on our left hand, and I then sewed those gloves together, to create a simple act of connection.