Over the last twenty years I have created a body of work that uses a diversity of styles, concepts and appropriations, depending on the prospective viewer, venue and conceptual purpose. This diversity allows me the ability to explore and apply an assortment of artistic theories and processes to maintain a character of multiplicity in the post-modern world.
As an artist in Missouri I gained my early reputation by appropriating and continuing the traditions of the Regionalist artists who influenced the Midwest in the past. I employ this tradition to create works that relate to the community but also subtly touch on contemporary issues, such as the workers in the service industry, or environmental and political situations. Luckily, my reverence for the Regionalists also appeals to private clients and patrons as diverse as H&R Block Headquarters, Boone Hospital Center, the City of Columbia, restaurants and schools. By appropriating this tradition I have been able to create paintings that aesthetically relate to common regional viewers and since given me a certain bit of notoriety.
This notoriety has provided me with the opportunity to be an active member of the community. I have been fortunate to participate in functions where I can experiment with new methods. For instance, I have developed two collaborative painting methods to use when I interact with large groups of people. One method uses a device-essentially a pendulum carrying cans of paint- called “Crazy Dave’s Anemic Centripetal Line Generator.” The device lets individual participants glide lines of paint over a large canvas, thereby making each an artist in the context of the resulting painting. This method has become a great interactive and educational tool, especially at elementary school events. In another method I also employ chance but play more of the role of a conductor by using a bright light to trace the silhouettes of participants onto a large canvas. Like the previous method, participants are also considered collaborators, and the randomly overlapping silhouettes become the structural basis for the final painting that I create. These interactive paintings draw from Surrealist, Dadaist and Abstract Expressionist theories and practices which gives me the opportunity to roam outside my established Regionalist boundaries.
Beyond these strategies is the work of Harrison Bergeron. Bergeron is a character assembled certain artistic biographies, mythologies, and literature, creating a reincarnation of the polygenesis, Trickster motif. Like his character, his artwork is molded from historical aesthetics and bound to contemporary implications, and is meant to cause viewers to question preconceived historical and modern “truths”. These works extend beyond painting and incorporate film, animation, and performance, allowing a full submersion into the informational deluge. It is a critique of man’s repetitive, habitual follies, showing the calamities festering within contemporary politics and their antecedent similarities. Therefore they require a different viewer; one equipped with a skeptical and academic approach to art, contemporary events, past mythologies and histories.
The array of artistic disciplines I appropriate can exist on their own set of definitions, heritages and goals but I find they cross, intersect and influence one another and keep art fresh and interesting. Refusing to submit to one style or character is a perk of this modern time, when artists’ have the ability to travel through the infinite possibilities of this broad, post-modern landscape.