Elected Officials are Our Surrogates
I am not certain what imperative I responded to first: the need to break out of the routine of studio work, or what I identified to be a crisis in the Brooklyn community in which I live. Whichever, the end result is that I have found myself for the last eight years in a new, (unpaid), life as a community organizer with a work practice as an artist that embraces my efforts outside of the studio. This means my work now should be read using assumptions more associated with other genres of art practice than painting. Put simply, I play a role in shaping what I paint before I paint it. A letter in my work is a letter that needed to be sent, a meeting is a meeting I helped to organize, I had a stake in the outcome of the rally. As a result, the paintings are the last step in a process I have been engaged with from beginning to end.
Many artists get involved in actions for the sake of their work; the actions at the start of my work are reactions to external events disassociated from any artistic goals. In earlier paintings, my personal experience and process were spelled out literally in the work in order to leave stepping-stones back to the painting’s source. Those paintings had a more abstract and inward focus, so I often did variations on the same idea before moving on. Now each of my paintings comes from specific, unanticipated stimuli outside my work that I am compelled to draw into my work and refine. The paintings slow down a complex world and respond with a point of view. The imperatives I feel outside the studio are explicit so the outcome in the studio is particular and linked to the real world.