“My work stems from the southern storytelling tradition. Common subjects for me are the folk-life and folklore of the local people juxtaposed against the fabric of everyday American life. I am particularly interested in music, musicians and the musical traditions of Louisiana. When I began to develop my individual style, I had little resources to travel and experience different types of art firsthand. Although I did attend college, studied art history and was exposed to contemporary artwork, it was the work of local artists that I experienced day in and day out that made the biggest impression on me — and it was these people who inspired my artwork.
Before I was a painter I worked with photography, ceramics and glass. Photography was my first medium. I had my own darkroom by age 12. When I entered college I took ceramic classes and eventually graduated with a degree in Ceramic Sculpture. After college I worked at a glass shop making leaded glass windows. Each medium had a great impact upon my vocabulary.
Although my artistic process does not include the use of a camera, I like to think that I take snapshots with my mind — stories, anecdotes, myths, images, songs and other artwork — storing and modifying these images until I can put them down in material form. One of my favorite ways of inventing new work is to have someone describe one of my paintings verbally because this usually spawns new ideas for me. Finding small details in existing work is also another source of imagery for me – often some small icon appears in the background that I can enlarge and recreate. Yet another bridge to photography.
The linear quality of leaded glass design, and dealing with flat planes of color, were important elements that influenced my imagery when I began painting. It was my goal to simulate the transmitted light of glass in the reflected light of paint, so I used raw brilliant color straight from the tube. Gradually I developed my skills, expanding my color vocabulary and painting technique to achieve brilliant or muted color techniques.
“I make work for a variety of reasons, some of which I’m not sure I completely understand. Everything I make has meaning, although I may not fully understand what the painting means at the time. I’m compelled to make things. I make some work simply because I imagined it and want to see it materialize. Some work I make to relive and tell stories.”
Currently one of the series I’m working on is a series of constructions with narratives. Also I’m working on a series of block monoprints on paper and cloth. The blocks are made of wood, linoleum, cardboard, plastic and screen, anything that will resist ink and print. This current series of block prints I’ve been making uses iconography I’ve gleaned from over 20 years of painting. These images come back to me again and again in my head and float around in the picture plane of my mind so I had to get them out to float around on the printed page. In many cases the final print is very saturated with images and color, being printed over 20 times with different blocks. But the individual images still can be seen if you look carefully. This method of image saturation not only has taken over my printing, but my painting, constructions and video work.
From my travels I now know that a broad spectrum of people identify with my work because they can relate to the sublime, ordinary, mundane and iconic imagery I create. By allowing them to touch the local or immediate experience they are able to touch the universal.”