Road House Project
My work strives to bringing a viewer to a full stop, to look. Fixed on road house constructions as inventions designed to stop movement I hope to expand on the appreciation, innovation and source they have become as literal road tests.
Off the limited access highways, between the edge of one town and the edge of another, are conveniences, necessities, accommodations and attractions forming a language expressing hospitality, opportunity and locality. The where, how and why of a business, a location or construction is more apparent in the vernacular service structures on full access roadways connecting communities. In some way it is a physical manifestation of broad band. Introducing locality in transition from place to place can present a sequence translating place to place; slowing down traffic.
Jumping the notions of essential or natural landscape, the handyman and the sewing club emerge in these paintings to provide a set up with plotted, patterned and vectored atmospheres over crazy quilt groundings. Cloud computing and hallucination are insinuated. The evocation and promise of road-architecture in the U.S. opens personal, cultural, economic and class associations that are recognizable, accessible and readable. The cultural contribution to food, entertainment, convenience and advertising was literally road tested and seems to be a modeled along our highways for the construction, interconnectivity and band width access of the developing internet. Raising significant attention to the road house and the declining state that much of this construction is in, is a major factor in my representation of it. It is often the first item for the bulldozer and the last consideration for its tightly wound history, poetry and localized identity.
Painting stops and addresses one person at a time and prompts a viewer's privacy of looking in public. Evidence of singular touch and choice may not seem the most direct vehicle to drive this subject forward. I believe however painting gives a particularly useful perspective and displacement in the contemplative aesthetic distance it maintains.
Not just a readability but contextual agency. Not a slice of time but a lens diffracting memory into useful models.
Occupying an empty suitcase
I was drawn to baggage as an evocative symbol for freedom of movement and the anxiety of homelessness, a place to put it all. The luxury of travel and the rootlessness of the dispossessed came to cohabit scenes of baggage-claim areas and piles of luggage waiting to be collected. I began to focus on the interior of the suitcase, in images of suitcases being packed, an allusion to the packing of a metaphor and a back story. The difference between the scuffed and scarred exterior and the plushly appointed interior seduced me in and out.
I begin paintings as larks, jokes or problems and I finish them with my attachments and a devotion through the pulse of my hand.
My paintings are interventions in the empty suitcase, containers being packed and repacked. The “Cave Paintings” 1994 are concerned with shelter and accommodations of this prepositional place. Rooms, corners, ceilings, and doors become places into which a subject expands, where defenses can be let down, where a subject can float into resourceful departure or unguarded repose. Like taking in a deep breath and letting it out, to internalize a place, a privacy, or a pause seems to allow consciousness, and a subject to exist. The place occupied by a subject is a place of collecting oneself. The process in an object, the implication to embrace the with the solidity of matter expands connotations and embeds imagination with agency.
I am drawn to allegory, in its assemblies of signs, symbols, metaphors, displacements, dramas, cycles, and authority problems.
The relationship between object and process is something I thought I knew about, being a painter; the work of making something in my studio, with intuition and anxiety is familiar to me. But the making without knowing, introduced me to the ghost in my machine. Knowing a paintings as an objects and as a sites, I understand them as situations making objects into places. It suggests a static threshold. The perception of an object as an environment or place, a proverbial state of being with its own inertia and its own drive and thrills confronts me as a maker, a viewer and a subject.
My habit is deliberately to lose myself in procedure in order to approach and see the familiar from a different angle.
I imagine myself stationed between the extremes of agoraphobia and claustrophobia, cardinal navigation points of my work. Being either thrown into the world or boxed up, either exposed or home-bound, frames my dilemma and the activity of my studio.
I use representation to contain a place that provides a subject with shelter and occupation. The navigational aspects of perspective provide entry to a picture allowing a sensory access to a place. The unthought fit of the maker’s measurements on the made gives dimension to that place between representation and presence. It is often working both sides of the mirror at the same time.
ARTIST STATEMENT 2008 Betty Cunigham Gallery
Paintings, packed like luggage, appointed like rooms and driven like automobiles move this body of work. The most uniquely American interior, inside an automobile, promises the ability to come and go at will. Paint, design and automobiles are all vehicles of promise with objects, subjects and expectations.
The act of painting repacks these things with new meanings for other destinations. The cut-away automobile prop implied a particular sense of internal combustion.
The green screen signals a location to be determined, and the reduced carbon footprint of pure imagination. As a form of extreme off-street parking, the blur of auto upholstery with the sectional, the wind shield with the plasma screen, suggests privacy yet conserves the possibilities of promised travel. Behind the wheel or looking through a camera; steering, directing or framing, outsized fantasies of control through design accumulate and develop. Seeing the world through the windows of a sedan or living in a car is similar to living in a camera. Where we go depends on our driving habits, skills and the vehicle.
The collision of multiple scripts and perspectives licenses a default driver’s education. Raised near Chicago, “Building as Machine for Living,” became a coded expression for being modern. Design, as a vehicle, and a utopian proposal, pointed to progress. A preoccupied container often signaled new in-house and off-road possibilities. This, points to a means of access, an on-ramp. Objects fill my attention in ways that a crowd fills a frame and takes on a life of its own. Visual objects as props, apparatus and mechanisms for the occupation of subjects, are soft machines.
I paint objects and places because the act of painting repacks these things with new meanings and additional destinations. It is the influence of the hand in the frame that kindles this implication of internal meaning.
My current cycle of paintings collapses the spectacular vista of the highway with the mundane vernacular architecture of utility and novelty. The vehicle being at once a camera in a role of a lifetime, frames the places between here and there as a slowing down, putting on the brakes for a closeup.