The Brooklyn waterfront and the cyclical relationship between water and land are often starting points for my work. I had received a Fulbright Grant to Italy years ago to research Byzantine icon paintings and routinely started drawing and painting outdoors during that time. From that experience of working in nature for long periods and seeing how varying light or cloud-cover changed what I was viewing, I began to understand how light can determine how we perceive depth and space. What has interested me most about religious icon painting is their ability to seemingly both emanate and absorb light. Usually the figures in these paintings are painted to show some aspect of three-dimensionality while the backgrounds are completely flat and painted solid gold. I love the juxtaposition of depth and flatness in icon paintings and how their condensed, shallow space is affected by light interacting with their surfaces. I am exploring how my own work relies upon the passage or obstruction of light and how that affects depth and space. I am a distance runner and time along the Brooklyn waterfront helps my studio work recall experiences of the water and the reflection of light in different weather conditions. When painting and drawing outdoors is logistically difficult, the experience of my Brooklyn waterfront runs truly help me to explore light and space in my work.
This exhibit with Ground Floor Gallery is comprised of paintings on top of my etchings. I often draw on etching plates outdoors near the waterfront and then print the etchings onto paper back in my studio. I paint either directly onto the etching or I print a painting on top of an etching. To do this, I paint on plexi-glass that is cut the same size as my etching plates. I then place the plexiglass-painting on top of one of my already made etchings (that I pre-soak in water so it accepts the painting) and run them both through a hand-turned printing press together. My drawn etching marks seep through the painterly fields of ochre, white and sienna that are printed on top and create a type of atmospheric effect. The constant interchange of water over land through waves, mist, fog, and ice are recalled from the Brooklyn Bridge Park running paths, the running paths and water near my studio in Red Hook, Kingsborough Beach, Coney Island and Jacob Riis Beach.
As a child, I became fascinated with icon paintings after the violent, sudden death of my only sibling. The trauma caused me to look to the familiar for answers as my grief-stricken parents struggled to cope. They were avid gardeners and working outdoors with them through the seasons and years helped me understand the healing that landscape could provide. I read the mysterious stories of the Old Testament and visually absorbed the icon paintings and grand, story-laden stained glass windows of my local Roman Catholic church where my cousin, a Bishop, would visit. Images which served to both help and mystify me at such a formative time in my childhood provoked a life-long study of icons. I became interested in the cathartic nature of images and how visual intermediaries act as a depository for request, as conduit for thought and memory, or help elevate bodily awareness. While I was researching icons in Italy, I learned more about the civilization of the Etruscans and how they used divining images and statues, sculptures which served to connect man with a spiritual aspect or deity. I saw similarities with these ancient sculptures to the role that Byzantine icons served centuries later. As I visited Etruscan museums to learn more, I immersed myself in painting and etching the countryside of the Etrurian towns of Volterra, Fiesole and Tarquinia. Now, so many years later, I often gravitate to etching and painting outdoors because of the juxtaposing feelings it creates in me: an exhilarating sense of vastness as well as an absurd futility believing that I could capture anything as enormous or grand as what I am viewing. Through painting, etching and running outdoors, landscapes and seascapes have become my personal icons for my constantly changing relationship to loss.