My paintings are the musings of a queer Appalachian
The formation of an artist is a curious thing. The imagery which springs from me has as much to do with my past as it does my present. Before settling in West Virginia, my pre teen years were spent in a myriad of states. We moved from Alabama, to Wyoming, to Mechanicsville Virginia. I remember vividly the smells of car interiors, the Judds playing, flipping through cassette tape covers and drinking cold coffee from my dads thermos cup as we moved in the night. My grandmother would do most of my raising up on a Mountain in HooHoo Holler in Southern West Virginia. I was fortunate enough to have my artwork recognized by a retired lawyer by the name of Stanley Hostler and his art loving wife Virginia and they paved the way for me to begin my journey studying art at West Virginia University. At 17 I went to live with my high school science teacher and her family who adopted me as their own.
At WVU I began a career in digital media. I focused my studies in graphic design, multimedia, web design and videography. All the while studying conceptual art and critical theory. Upon graduation I worked multiple jobs and at 25 received a full scholarship to The Ohio State University where I continued my work in multimedia in the Art and Technology program. There I taught freshmen and worked in abstract video and installation art. This led me to a stint as a videographer at PBS, a few commercial marketing gigs, and finally a now 15+ year career in instructional design.
While my relationship to digital media has certainly flourished, I felt I was missing something. I missed the very physical connection to mark making and so I came full circle back to painting. The paintings I make tend to obsess over ideas of home, home lost, anxiety, and most importantly identity. Creating my own visual language, imagery common to Appalachia and tied to queer iconography. Guns, drag queens, baptisms, black bears, coal miners, strong women, are the varied themes you will find in these works. While they are open to individual interpretation, these are narratives intended to question and celebrate many colloquial norms, identity, and sense of home.
Painting With Coal Dust
Henri Matisse once said "I've been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.” For me, these dark coal laden marks are a love letter to mark making. Adding coal to the work functions like a bit of alchemy, it is quite literally the earth from my home. I use the coal dust as pigment to make black textured paint, and to mute other colors. The finely ground coal is collected from a WV processing plant, and then mixed with clear acrylic medium - resulting in my own unique brand of paint. The style I paint in is 'alla prima' - although rarely in oils, I use wet paint on top of wet and am more interested in expressive brush strokes than photographic accuracy.