Ten years ago, I was a young artist living next to the largest and oldest working landfill in California. I tried to
fathom the landfill’s depths. I went inside it whenever I could. I learned of a strange symbiosis between the landfill
and my community: it took in 12,000 tons of waste daily and gave out improvements to my small town in the likes
of pony rides and vinyl fencing.
My work is about place, space, people, media, vistas and views, landscape politics, and politics. The region’s dynamic paradigms, like those found at the landfill, give my work context. My art practice focuses on popular conceptions of nature in Los Angeles’ narratives of place. I ask, what are the prevailing attitudes towards scenic beauty which assign value to locations and landscapes? How are Eurocentric relationships with land institutionalized, and often used as a conduit for social and environmental injustice? How do people find meaning in their relationships to space and land? In a time of environmental crisis and uncertainty, these attitudes matter. Our attitudes matter!
I consider myself a conceptual artist because my work starts with this inquiry and is realized in a wide range of mediums as I see fit. I address the mass marketing and mediation of nature with video; The Poppy Report follows the Los Angelino craze for the super-bloom spectacle by employing hotline ticker-text and California Poppy porn. I learn about children’s relationships to urban green spaces and watersheds; in It’s Not Easy Seeing Green, I equip students with punk methodologies and point-and-shoots to produce nature poem installations about Los Angeles’ last wetland. I organize with nontraditional activist tactics; in Banner Moment, billboard-sized calls to action are held by dancers during Monday morning rush hour traffic on the freeway overpass next to my home.
Using traditional observational painting techniques I investigate the “nature” of suburban Los Angeles. I
use traditional materials, like oil paint, that references the time-honored practice of laborious, realistic
documentation to elevate the subject to a place of respect and importance. The act of closely studying
seemingly banal objects, like dirt and weeds, is an attempt to understand the universal by examining the
specifics of the minutiae around us and to pay homage to nature’s tenacity. The urban context within
which I experience nature seems to amplify its importance.
I’m using the term “nature” loosely here. The trees, the shrubs and weeds, were nearly all planted here by someone in an attempt to simulate the ideal savannah. We know that, but their presence still stirs our ingrained unshakable appreciation of the aesthetic. They have become our “substitute nature.”
This formal, conceptual, emotional relationship between urbanites and nature is fraught with contradictions. These contradictions are the source for my work. The visual contrast, obviously, but also conceptual entanglements: It is in our nature to find plants beautiful but our evolution is literally squeezing them out of our environment and won’t this evolution eventually make them obsolete? Will nature's tenaciousness prevail? Which plants will thrive around us as the environment struggles? Will the plants that we now consider weeds become our new cultivars? How does the dirt beneath us feed into and contain these dichotomies?
I am an artist and educator based in Los Angeles, California. My work is almost exclusively
lens based and engages with the moving image. My practice begins with a question that I
believe is central to both design and media studies: what do the designers of our built
environments and infrastructures claim to be doing, and what are they doing? Towards this
end, the subjects of my work look to how political, economic, and social structures are
inscribed within our built environments. But formally, I also see it crucial to subject my use
of images to this same interrogation. Therefore, my work attempts to juxtapose two parallel
questions: what does it mean politically to make a building, and what does it mean politically
to make a picture of that building?
My recent work has become increasingly focused on tracing the role of the image as a means to communicate and legitimize particular ideas, narratives and agendas about globalization. This investigation begins with the selected point of view of the photographic image and traces its historical evolution, through its roots in pictorial representation, the advent of photography for scientific purposes, the role of cinema and the current digital proliferation of digital networks. In 2015 I completed a work titled All That is Solid Melts into Data, which asked the intentionally naïve question, is it possible to see the Internet? Eschewing any totalizing conclusion, the project looked to the role of the data center. The work served as a portrait of the physical structures that are required to make digital structures. The task of the work was to situate buzzwords such as ‘big data’ within the longer histories between images and knowledge production. This has led to a current project built on a similarly grand and vexing question: is it possible to see the economy? Under the working title The Unsatisfying Metaphor this project looks to the story of the World Trade Organization’s art collection to tell the story of art’s relation to economics. The work is on track to be completed by fall of 2019 in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the WTO protest in Seattle in 1999.
My artwork is rooted in craft traditions with themes of Christian theology, art history, ethnographic motifs, and
personal anecdotes. Although founded in painting, the art I make incorporates various materials and techniques
including beads, embroidery, weaving, paper, ceramics, and carpentry. The resulting aesthetic is an intricate
and multi-layered synthesis of figuration, abstraction, and decoration. My hope and vision is to bring Christian
themes into the contemporary art world as a relevant subject of discourse. I am interested in how various
peoples interpret beliefs and in the many ways these are represented through ritual and artifact.
My practice embraces change, formal, material, and procedural exploration. As such, my work in the near future will be sculptural in form and suspended for installation. My last exhibition at CB1 Gallery included imagery of a white stag; I’d like to follow these paintings with objects using antler sheds. Antlers play a role in Americana craft, deer are a figure in one of Mexico’s most traditional dances (La Danza del Venado), and I hope to create a synthesis of these two vernacular roots. I recently installed a semi-public mobile sculpture inspired by the Huichol Ojo De Dios artifacts which set me on the path of creating mobiles. I am convinced there are fruitful seeds in these forms and traditions, stemming from my previous work and continuing thematic explorations within my practice.