My recent paintings are inspired by the human impact on the natural world and the destructive force of time on the built environment. Living in the Midwestern United States I am surrounded by urban structures in contrasting states of existence; buildings slowly crumble in the shadow of shiny new construction, layers of paint peel away from walls and doors while the refuse from renovations lay in twisted piles on street corners. My creative work sits at the intersection of emotion and fact. The paintings are about how I navigate the world; they reveal what I choose to observe as well as the fears and concerns I project onto the environment.
Economic decline, population loss, and urban decay transformed The Steel Belt into The Rust Belt and also forged negative social trends. According to political scientist and economist Francis Fukuyama, “This period, roughly the mid-1960s to the early 1990s was also marked by seriously deteriorating social conditions in most of the industrialized world. Crime and social disorder began to rise, making inner-city areas of the wealthiest societies on earth almost uninhabitable.”
With this in mind, contradictions within the urban environment become evidence of the inequality within my community, and can easily be mapped back onto societies around the world. In this age of information, people can be connected to global tragedies and triumphs, which must be reconciled alongside the personal. I process these events as I examine my surroundings, often inventing metaphors. I may see courage in old growth trees that twist and rebel against the gridlines of a concrete sidewalk, or melancholy in the way a tarp hangs over my neighbor’s garage.
Throughout my typical day, I take pictures of anything that strikes me as sad, humbling, or visually surprising. I also seek these views out by touring recycling centers, transportation museums, and driving to places outside of my commute. My archive of photographs is constantly growing and serves as the collage material from which I construct fictional worlds.
In these works I aim to depict uncanny urban environments devoid of humans but packed with remnants of their existence to suggest the aftermath or foreshadowing of an unknowable catastrophe. I eschew a fixed and singular perspective opting for a collage aesthetic and multiple painting styles as a way to express my range of emotions as well as the simultaneity of existence. Here obscurity and specificity collide, invention overpowers reality, and color distorts familiarity to create an atmosphere of uncertainty.