What are you working on in your studio right now?
The last 12 months have been very busy producing and exhibiting work, but at this moment I am packing my studio in order to move it. I've been working in a space within my home for the past 7 years. I'm moving to a newly converted studio building about 10 blocks away from where I live in West Philadelphia. My home studio is really great, but the time has come for a little more work space and separation between work and family life.
Can you describe your working routine?
With the impending move this is likely about to change drastically. The past few years I have tended to make work in groups and often driven by external due dates related to exhibitions. So it doesn't feel "routine" in the way that I imagine or idealize a routine to be. In addition to my studio work I'm quite involved with running a small family business and parenting my three children. I have to switch gears constantly all day every day. However, my home studio has allowed me to be physically in the same place as my work at some point every day. Whether or not I am working with my hands in the studio, I have been able to have a daily relationship to my art through actually seeing and considering it.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My current and future studios both have plentiful daylight. I feel better and work best during the daytime (even though I also work at night). Daylight is a "light" kind of light. Light light vs. heavy light…whatever that means…that's what I go for in my work. Even in more darkly-colored work, I still want it light. Music is important in my space. I usually have headphones on when working. I keep some of my musical instruments in the studio, too. I title my paintings after lyrical phrases from the music I play when working.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Even though my current work may be categorized as geometric, I think I'm quite "gestural" in my approach to it. Almost every decision I make ultimately comes down to how it feels, or how I imagine that the result will feel to me physically. And when I say physically, let's not forget "optically." Seeing often gets connected to thinking very quickly…perhaps more quickly than any of the other senses. I want to stay as long as possible in the moment of feeling myself seeing. I feel best about my work when I feel myself wanting to keep looking at it for the feeling I get when I see it.
But to answer your question more directly. My process begins in the preparation (i.e. priming canvas), which typically plays a big role in in the outcome of the work. I begin work in groups and try to finish everything without abandoning it, though that has never been possible. I work with water-based media. My processes are completely additive. This means every decision made happens on the surface and is potentially/likely visible in the final state of the piece. Typically the beginning of my work is very fast and exciting, and then each work reaches a fulcrum of "unfinished balance." At this point I work on it most by looking at it, somewhat paralyzed by the unknown of what could happen next, because each new action has the potential to either clarify or ruin the work. This challenge compels me to keep coming back.
Fruitville installation, 2011
This past year I have dreamed about some paintings. In the dreams they are a beautiful outgrowth of what I am making now and it's very clear to me how I could make them. When I am in the studio, nothing I do produces what I remember the paintings in the dreams to be like, nor can I describe to you what they look like.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I make work in several ways. I make wall-mounted wooden low relief objects, works on a particular vintage school-grade writing paper which was found and given to me by my dad, and more standard-format paintings on canvas and paper. My paintings are pretty straight-ahead/traditional in terms of materials. The other two bodies of work are already begun by nature of them being found and I bring all kinds of materials into the process with them. It took me a long time to personally reconcile that these three bodies of work all had equal value. But now it's comforting. It makes me feel like a multi-instrumentalist musician. If one day I don't have the energy for the fine points of violin, I can go bang on drums. It's still making music.
What does the future hold for this work?
Once I get my studio moved, there are a few "technical hunches" I want to follow as it relates to my paintings. But otherwise, I honestly have no idea.
Blank Space, 2013