Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Attempt at Seriousness That You Should Not Expect Often

I enjoy the relationship between shadow and negative space.

What I don't enjoy is attempting to write or talk about this or anything else related to the work I do.

I'm not exactly sure why I am attracted to the images I choose nor am I exactly sure why I feel the need to devote a massive amount of time, energy and money to produce these images. They exist because I make them exist, and that is enough for me.

However, as I have started to show my work privately in studio, it has come to my attention that many people have questions and that these questions require answers.

Answers are always messy.

I started working with stencils while living in New York City in 2006. I gravitated toward this medium because I saw it as a simple and cost-effective way of transfering prints to textiles for use in a dress group I was designing at the time. As I began proofing the first stencils I discovered I enjoyed the solitary images against the clean white surface of the bristol board. To my eyes they needed nothing else. They were simply the shadows and the negative space, and it was right.

There are several artists working today who use stencils as their means of expression. Most of these artists, if not all, started out on the streets where they lived, utilizing the stencils as a media that allowed for elaborate images to be tagged very quickly, an important consideration when your work is illegal.

What sets my work apart immediately is that it has never (not once) appeared on the side of a public building, on a newspaper kiosk, a sidewalk, or the plywood sheets boarding up a construction site. My work has never been meant to be "graffiti". I have no interest in "tagging" or "bombing" in the middle of the night. With all due respect to graffitti artists, (and there are those who do deserve great respect) I personally see nothing romantic about traipsing around at night in bandanas and "vintage" Nike hightops, eluding the police in order to spray some tragically hip or trite stencil on the side of a post box.

There are two or three prominent stencil artists working in high-profile today. I do not need to mention them as anyone who knows anything about this type of work knows who they are already, and they do not need any more publicity from me. It is impossible to work with stencils, however, and not find oneself compared to them in some way. For me, the stencil is just a medium like oil paints or encaustic. The work may look similar at first glance, but as with anything, closer inspection reveals the true personality and true talent (or lack thereof) of the artist. I am not in competition with any other artist. There existence helps all.

As stated prior, I have no interest in talking about the subjects of my work. I believe they mean whatever it is the viewer wants them to mean. We react naturally and instantly to an image, whatever that image may be and however that image may find its way in front of us. It is a natural and organic reaction that takes place within the viewer, resonating for them based on their make-up, their personal baggage they carry around. It is not my job to interfere with that process.

I enjoy the relationship between shadow and negative space. When I am cutting a stencil I am doing nothing more than carving shadows, sculpting a person or image out of the shadows created by the crevices and bends that form the shape of things. When I place a stencil down on the blank paper or canvas to spray the image, I'm turning the blankness into negative space. This blankness now becomes infused with energy though it has not been altered itself.

I work with images of people. People are so infrequently surrounded by nothing, so dense are our environments and so cluttered our personal spaces. I enjoy pulling people away from their surroundings, taking them out of the framework of their messy lives. This leaves the subject open and raw, without the crutch of context to hold onto or hide behind.

As for the images themselves, I will leave them to be what they are. I will not explain my choices, nor do I feel I am even capable of doing so.

I hope this has answered any questions you may or may not have had.

Thank you.

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