Artist Statement – 2002
All of my life I have spent, in one way or another, negotiating with desire, bargaining with the psyche to strike a balance between want and need. Granted, this is a hard won realization; only recently have I come to understand the core of the struggle—how desire profoundly, subtly, often irrationally informs my decision making process—and I am still just as susceptible to its sway.
Desire. The Oxford English Dictionary relinquishes nearly five full columns to its definition. This seems barely adequate to me. What has come to interest me now are the manifold relationships between the one who wants and the objects of desire. How the manifestations of desire differ when the wanted thing is physical, or spiritual, or… How desire drives us onward or holds us back, sometimes simultaneously. And what of the ultimate seductive power of the unobtainable? What happens in the absence of desire? Is wanting a vital element of living?
Since childhood I have been driven to gather things and make lists. For a long time, I kept all these things and lists in a black satchel, hidden in my closet. Periodically, overcome with guilt or fear, neither of which did I understand the sources of, I would purge my satchel, go deep into the woods and make a bonfire. Today I realize that this process is still important in my life. My black satchel has given way to memory, in all of its transmutations. And the purge, no less pyromaniacal and destructive at times, takes the form of poems, stories, and paintings.
A key theme in all of my creative work is the nature of faith and the relationships between humans and the unknowable. I have sought to understand, or at least participate in, the tenuous and often tumultuous discourse of worship and all that it means. Age is bringing perspective, not answers. I do not believe for a minute that I will ever know whatever it is I want to know. I do believe, with conviction that comes closer to faith than anything else I have experienced, in the importance of continually striving to define the questions.
I think it impossible to explain precisely why one is touched or moved by a particular poem or work of art, and as impossible to fully comprehend why a writer or an artist is compelled to produce in a certain way. I would even say that we are most moved, as reader or writer, artist or viewer, by that which we cannot explain. That said, I know that my early poems, and because I came to visual arts late most of these paintings, demonstrate the rage of youth, sacrificing much for the sake of the anger. Rough language and images meant to shock were often the driving force behind work that, however immaturely, sought to challenge the incongruities of human existence. Having written this paragraph, I realize that I still have the same impulses, often the same degree of anger, and without doubt still fail miserably at times. But I’ve come to appreciate the subtleties, and the links that hold us all together. I am excited by the possibilities of art — ideological, musical, historical, etceteras—as a vehicle for exploring and strengthening those bonds.