What type of art do you create?
My work is interdisciplinary with a strong focus on narrative and storytelling. Currently I am working in book arts, printmaking and writing. My history includes working in audience participatory installations, interactive multimedia, net.art, electronic literature, and augmented reality. Concept is significant in my practice as it is the ideas that I am grappling with that hold me to the making. That said, I do have a lot of work about elephants, contemplative practices, social behaviors, and the natural world.
What life experiences have had the biggest impact on your art?
Probably travel. Especially international travel. A large part of my travel experience is in consuming various aspects of the culture I am visiting. This often includes contemporary art as well as historical practices and traditions. The scope of an immersive travel experience—visual and overall cultural overload—stimulates, and sometimes seeps into, my thinking about my own work.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
When I was a student and being introduced to the larger art world I was very attracted to the work of Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Ann Hamilton, Christine Tamblyn, Anselm Kiefer, Joan Mitchell, and Tony Oursler. Currently I am in awe of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Wangechi Mutu, Hung Liu, William Kentridge, Cara Romero, Jenny Saville, Alison Saar, Kara Walker, Simphiwe Ndzube, Titus Kaphar, Tavares Strachan, Cannupa Hanska Luger, teamLab, Masami Teraoka, Robert Longo, Shirin Neshat, Kiki Smith, Nina Katchadourian, Sandow Birk . . . there are so many . . .
How do you ensure that you continue to learn and improve?
My practice is often project-based with a lot of initial research. When one project is complete I generally take on something quite a bit different. This means I am constantly discovering and learning and challenging myself—conceptually and technically—because as soon as I get comfortable with a specific content or media, I seem to switch it up to both new concepts and new media explorations. Collaboration with other artists teaches me a lot as well.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on art?
I’m a gardener, a reader, a cook, a swimmer, a hiker, a nature lover, a community volunteer, and again, a cultural consumer. All types of culture—music, dance, theater, performance art, film, history, cuisine, literature, and of course all of the visual arts.
What do you hope viewers and collectors take away from your art?
When someone is collecting I hope it is because they find the work thought provoking, and in that regard that it provides them with a new mind journey or perspective to experience and ponder. For viewers in general—it would be nice if they took away a little smile.
What’s your take on the purpose or value of art?
I think that our species is inherently creative and deeply hooked into problem solving activities. Just look at the built environment and the myriad systems we have invented that we all navigate every day. Most art practices are expressions of creativity and problem solving. They provide openings into new avenues of thought and these openings are opportunities for change and continued development. There is a bit of entertainment in there as well.
Do you feel you need to have a degree in art to pursue an art career?
No. There are many accomplished and significant artists that are self taught. Being educated can build confidence, but it can also show us how much we don’t know, which I think is a good thing as this type of awareness can open the mind, spawn creativity and encourages compassion. It’s that old time Socratic paradox, “The more I learn, the less I know.” The primary value of arts education at the college level is that it often provides the vocabulary, history, and context that many of the most successful artists are versed in, as an effective arts education is often a conversation between an artist and their peers, and an artist and their mentors. Exceptional institutions with strong mentor/student bonds are often the primary launching pads for successful arts careers. Education can also broaden an artist’s awareness of the larger art world which helps to make them feel (and appear) smarter. The exposure to art history and philosophies helps us to make work that adds to the conversation and builds on existing culture rather than repeating what has already been done.
At the K—12 level the arts teach and develop critical thinking skills, as well as appreciation for diverse ways of seeing and being in the world. This is where art education is most important in human society.
How does art impact other areas of your life?
The anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake defines art as “making special.” In this regard I appreciate making special in my everyday and have been very fortunate to be able to immerse and surround myself in a making special lifestyle. This includes celebrating and providing opportunities for other creatives. I am a curator of exhibitions, an art writer, and a publisher. Currently I am engaged in producing an annual anthology of regional artists, writers, and doers called Entanglements. This type of project provides me with immense satisfaction as it allows me to work with and learn about other people who are doing engaging work, and I hope it contributes to a broader awareness of regional culture. It’s one of the ways that I give to the community. Entanglements is available at The Main Gallery.