An idea that stays in your system for so long is worth following, even if you do not have the words to explain why. This “360” idea has been on my mind for fifteen years. I came across it in grad school. I had this idea that human beings were merely sticks poking out of the planet, spinning around in emptiness. The concept of our tininess within the vastness of living space was overwhelming. I tried to articulate this idea by sewing large patches of canvas together, standing on top of them, and recording what I saw as I rotated around the center.
I was never able to create anything that felt solid out of those experiments. They were too fractured, almost childlike. The world felt overwhelmed with information and impossible to articulate. I destroyed those initial studies, but every year the idea of recording the space around would swing back into my thinking process. How might we be able to enter a pictorial space, to escape inside it and see it from all sides? Does painting allow for that kind of entrance and escape?
Transforming my entire surroundings into a representational space seemed impossible, until recently. At the beginning of 2016, I left my studio in Santa Fe, which I worked out of for eight years, and moved across the country. The life change was a jump start to clarity. I shed years of unused materials and inherited objects gathering dust in the corners. I took myself out of my comfort zone and daily working routine.
For three months, I was without a studio, and as a somewhat forced experiment, I focused strictly on drawing. For the first time in my career, I started to use an eraser: I was constantly destroying and rebuilding the space around me, and really fought with the drawing to get it right. I began to see the lucid power behind a well-structured linear composition. A sense of fluidity started to come through.
In March, I set up in a new studio in Southampton, Massachusetts and got back to painting. Surrounded by a new landscape, it seemed only fitting that with such a change I should try out the 360s again. Because of those months spent relearning how to draw, I was able to start seeing results in the color work. While these new works are becoming more linear, they remain highly intuitive and painterly.
In order to get closer to the 360, I needed to manipulate the lines I was seeing into something that would work on the rectangular surface. I had to not just stand in the center, but fully own the fact that I am the center of the space around me, however tiny that center may be. That meant pulling everything into orbit, allowing my gravity to have an effect of what I was seeing. All these elements of painting are finally coming together, and granting a complex idea the opportunity to transform into a lucid, and uniquely bulbous, pictorial space.