The sublime is experienced in both nature and civilization. Humans are entangled between the natural world from which they evolve, and a manufactured world into which they escape. The spectacle of the human-made world is a feast for the senses which we guiltily enjoy as much as, if not more than nature. We like spending a day at the beach or in the woods, searching for fossils, or climbing German foothills to gaze upon valleys. However, we equally love touring factories, riding trains, watching films, going to museums and eating lunch in Chinatown. And, while we recognize the violence and natural destruction for which civilization is to blame, we maintain a culpable allegiance to it.
Using patterns and textures collected from print and digital media, my recent work composes images that explore this ambivalence and entanglement. People mechanically recreate patterns they see in nature to decorate buildings, websites, packaging, and other man-made objects. My work reinserts mechanically created patterns into images of human environments, reflecting my assertion that the human gaze differs from that of other creatures because it is a processed view of the world. That is, we are caught up in reinventing the world, which affects our ability to see it as it is or with a “beginner’s mind”. Even sensual experiences that are brand new to us are always already interpreted by the patterns and conventions of our prior experiences and our own inventions.
Since 2015, I have collaborated with Matt Lynch of the collective Simparch to produce richly-patterned laser-cut high-pressure laminate mosaics. My earlier work features hand-cut collages of environmental mishaps, the fragmentation and patterning of which were in part inspiration for my current collaborative work with the laser cutter. I also produce memory drawings in which I seek to recover the erased or forgotten places and moments of a communal and personal past. Additionally, spanning three decades, I have produced paintings of my native Columbus, Ohio, USA, as well as my mother’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, USA—a body of work which gradually evolved from a celebration of the rhythms of urban life into a critique of urban sprawl. And lastly, I have created community murals throughout the Midwestern United States that inform citizens about their unique histories and legacies.