The activity of drawing first enters the creation of my work in the form of small doodles. I consistently, and perhaps obsessively, sketch abstract shapes, dead little birdies, and designs for contraptions. I formulate these into ideas for objects, often on odd scraps of household paper. Sometimes these doodles evolve into finished works, and other times they merely serve to document an idea. Sketches pervasively accumulate in my office, at home, and in the studio, and inform, but don't necessarily dictate, my making. Many also find their way into the interior spaces and onto the surfaces of my objects.
Clamping pieces of wood together impermanently, I am able to look at the overall composition and then decide on changes. I might shorten boards or stack together a variety of linear parts to three-dimensionally draw out objects. This process of sculpting is similar to sketching, and like a worked-over, much erased sketch, the completed sculptures have linear elements that vary in intensity, gesture, and movement. I consider each piece of material to be a small component to the whole, like marks making up a drawing.
Renovated Flightless Devices
My idiosyncratic sculptures play off the forms and function of tools, toys, boats, and, perhaps, military equipment. These process-oriented works take a winding path to completion, evolving from continuously redrawn sketches and traveling through many transformations before being cut apart, reassembled, and reworked. Parts are often transplanted, left behind, or recycled. Through this method of construction and reconstruction, I am able to intuitively build and then, at a later time, make necessary changes.
Embracing the unplanned, these oddly familiar, nearly useful-looking sculptures are imbued with human characteristics and gestures. Curious inspection and patient observation reveal previously unseen drawings and room-like interiors, many with small chairs and ladders “left over” from previous inhabitants. These things have handles, openings, drawn symbols, and moveable parts, but like the mystery of a ritual object from a broken-down culture, the physical or metaphorical functions are left to the imagination. In an increasingly commercialized, displaced society, I’m attempting to build slow, somewhat clumsy, objects that reveal a layered history.
Raft for __________ (with Constellation Drawing) is the most recent permutation of a work that has been slowly transforming for eleven years and continues my experimentation with connecting the sculptures to wall drawings. My hope is that viewers to fill in the blank and finish the narrative for themselves. Who inhabited this craft and from what were they fleeing? Another TANKARD (with Boarded-up Cloud Drawing) and Tankship (with Infection Drawing) are two other works that, among other associations, suggest a narrative about the society that once operated (and controlled the drawings of) these deserted vessels/ devices.
Can you talk a little bit about yourself, what your childhood was like growing up, and how you got into art?
I was born in Pennsylvania in 1973. I had a very happy childhood. I don't think I worried about too much. My goofy and loving parents divorced, got re-married, and then divorced again, and they were very supportive of my creative endeavors. I guess I was kind of quiet as a kid. We lived in a small town and my sister and I had lots of friends and extended family nearby. I have always enjoyed making things- snow forts, drawings, skateboard ramps, and then later in high school I screen printed t-shirts, designed stuff for the yearbook, and took all the art classes I could. I was one of the art kids, and I guess I was pretty good at it and liked being "the creative kid". At the end of my junior year, I decided that I wanted to do something art-related in college. So at Kutztown University, I started out as a graphic design major, then I shifted into art education. But it was about two years into art school that I really got into it and spent all my time in the woodshop. I was very lucky to be surrounded by lots of motivated and talented artist friends. At the time, I was really into making oddball sculptural furniture.
What inspires your work?
Phone conversation doodles, toys, tools, and the daily act of fixing and making stuff- no matter how basic- seem to inspire a desire to keep making art. And many other artists have been influential in the development of my work. I've never met HC Westermann, Martin Puryear, or Robert Arneson, but they're work has really stuck with me.
What is the collaborative process like?
Well, collaborations always sound good, but in reality, it can be hard to work with other artists. We all have confidence in our ideas and execution, and this confidence can often make it hard to concede to someone else's vision. But I've been collaborating with Brandon Smith for a bunch of years now, and that has been fun. We each bring our individual objects and images and arrange them site-specifically, often with wall drawings. We generally have a plan of attack, but it always changes and has unexpected combinations. Our individual works build on each other to strengthen a somewhat evolving narrative.
What is your process of art making?
I work on my sculptures constantly and over many months or years. They evolve and get cut apart and rebuilt many times. Attached is my statement that talks about my process a bit more.
What are your greatest challenges as an artist?
Comparing one's "success" to the success of others can be detrimental to the studio process. A few years back I worried about career stuff too much. Now that my wife and I have three little ones, I realize now that all I need is just a bit of time to keep making. Make the things and see where it leads. Once I'm in the studio, I am able to let things happen. But right now, I don't have as much time as I used to, and my new spacious studio is a disorganized mess! But I hope to be more productive over the next few months.
What is the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Sometime during my junior year of high school I realized that I'd be happiest if I could find a way to make a life as an artist.