ABOUT MY WORK:
I first identify and extract images that speak to me, primarily sourced in used books. Then, I trim the parts of the image I could use in a particular collage, or can fit into my files organized by subject matter. Typically, the work is a consistent scale of 32" square. I prepare the surface by drawing guidelines through the center, and a circle or two to assure my balance in placing elements. About three times as many elements are prepared as end up being in any given piece. When I’ve amassed enough elements to have plenty of choice, I spread the relevant pieces on a moveable flat surface, which serves a similar function to a painters pallet. I move the pieces around, creating a few sketches, seeing how individual pieces fit together, and getting familiar with them. In taking photos as reference, sometimes I find smaller arrangements within a larger sketch that make the cut to the final collage.
I make a final draft. In the adhering process it changes a bit, as the layers shift into their permanent placement within the building of the whole. Once I have the base of the collage down, I let the adhesive dry. Then, corners can be peeled up a bit, which allows for finishing elements to be woven over and under the base pieces until satisfactory visual harmony and balance has been achieved. In some pieces, I outline to define edges, tint parts of the whole to change inherent color, saturation, and shade components, filling in forms, to alter light and dark. As of late, I have been incorporating luminous gold and other metal leafing on top of the cut paper layers. Upon completion, the work is sprayed to seal it. Next, each piece is framed under glass to protect it from surface disruption and mitigate inherent fragility.
My aesthetic is "more is, almost always, more", decoratively embellished, meticulously arranged to create harmony, balance, and a feeling of wholeness. The unique qualities of my collage art, in contrast to other contemporary artists working in the medium, lay in part within their nature being highly-refined and complex. The larger scale I work in also sets my work apart. In addition, I possess an incredible inventory, and an already vast collection of collage source material that evolves as I select and prep images to be filed by subject matter and put them in their place.
I create incorporating mixed media techniques. Toning the elements beyond where I found them, which is primarily within an extensive collection of used books. This allows me to choose and enhance the inherent colors to the vivid, saturated levels I tend to prefer in my work. Embellishment through some rendering, outlining, metallic leafing, iridescent papers, as well as textural surface treatments provide freedom to evolve the artwork beyond the collage base to a more considered aesthetic ultimate destination. I am interested in reflection, and the play of light on the surfaces of my work.
I draw inspiration from many sources, most of those I draw from visually are patterns found in nature, however, the surreal, symbolic language of dreams play a big role in how I build a collage, connecting disparate ideas together, linking them in a new narrative or enriching the expression of an idea. The spectrum of the 10 gemstone “Treasure” collages, “The Ancestors”, “The Feminine Mystique”, the two “Magic Hands”, and the “Dragon Gate” all stem from the beginnings of a series that will, ultimately, have over 50 completed works, all will be 32” square. Each piece will culminate in a display of specimens of various fascinations to be contained within. The series relies on the glorious wunderkammer for both its visual and conceptual inspiration. The wunderkammer is defined as a “Chamber of marvels.”
They were most popular in the Renaissance period, and again in a Victorian revival. Collectors would apply supreme unifying principles in containing categorized multiples within cabinets of curiosity. The choices of what specimens to acquire, and how to display them, reflected the interests and personality, unique to each collection, due to the nature of its collector. This, of course, like all art, was open to the individual interpretation of those who gazed upon it. The quest of the collector was to find the allusive essence of a particular object, or the combination of many pieces joined together. Cross-cultural antiquities, and then contemporary objects, whose place of origin varied geographically, were featured; connections and commonalities were drawn between objects, as well as differences pronounced through the way it was arranged, which primarily implored radial symmetry, or balance at the very least, in object placement. (More on the Wunderkammer below.)
Some of the subject matter in this body of work will have its origins in scientific pursuit, such as alchemy, wet specimens in jars, insect and bird varieties, mummification of the dead, taxidermy of animals, bones, as well as shells and corals. Other works will be derived from anthropology, the occult, paranormal, and the Spiritualism movement, such as the magic of Houdini and his contemporaries, divination, Victorian rituals surrounding death, and the afterlife, mourning jewelry, and ghosts in spirit photography. The desire humans have to believe in powers greater than found in oneself have always been of great significance to me. Spiritual themes, such as mythology, shamanism, alters created for various rituals, Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons, and other fantastical creatures are among what is to come in the series.
Since childhood, the constant pursuit has been in my subject matter, which has a strong foothold in all things magical and symbolic, I have always adored fables, fairy tales, many aspects of the occult, religious iconography, and world mythology throughout history. In my adult life, consistent themes began to include my interest in various states of consciousness, such as lucid dreaming, the solace found in meditation, and within the expansive states of the psychedelic experience, intense sensory appreciation, and intuitive perception. Human psychology and the ways we create meaning and connection pique my interest. As I gained life experience, the significance in the emotional and physical states found within intimate relationships, such as expressions of the thrills and perils of love, sexuality, attraction, ecstasy or bliss, desire, and even despair, bloomed.
The Symbol of the Circle:
My collages are created by cutting images of beauty or symbolic significance from countless books, then, the many clippings are reassembled into a composition that emphasizes geometry, in particular, the circle. Some in the series are radial mandalas, while others are symmetrical, or just slightly asymmetrical. A few repeat the shape in a rhythmical sequence, creating an almost musical movement, but almost all incorporate the circle in some way, as a common link.
The circle represents wholeness, completeness, and purity. It is the only shape alike at all points, and as a form, potentially with no beginning or end, is the most important and universal geometric symbol in mystic thought. Because it is implicit in other important symbols, such as the sacred halo, the rotating wheel, the face of a clock, the ring, the life cycle, as well as the stars and planets of our cosmos. Also circular, is the tunnel that is the birth canal, and the one perceived in an out-of-body experience, or reportedly at death. The vagina is a circle, and the phallus, a cylinder that fills the void.
In religious iconography, most notably Egyptian, Mexican, and Sumarian, dynamism is added to the circles with rays, wings, or flames. They symbolize solar power or creative and fertilizing cosmic forces. Concentric circles can stand for levels in the afterlife, or, as in Zen Buddhism, stages of spiritual development. The circle in the square is a Jungian archetypal symbol of the relationship between the psyche, or self (circle), and the body, or material reality (square). This interpretation is supported by Buddhist mandalas in which squares inside circles represent the passage from the material to spiritual planes.
I am interested in the sublime feelings of awe and wonder at the peak of a mystical, sexual, meditative, or psychedelic experience. These fleeting moments of great impact, show powerful energy in full development or explosion, such as the big bang, an orgasm, or a flower blossoming. The images depict the creation of a transcendent moment of altered consciousness, one that unites and unveils our human experience with others, and with the rest of the world we inhabit.
On the Wunderkammer:
Within each amassing of objects contained in wunderkammers throughout history, loomed a shadow of an ancient body of learning, distant revelations of secrets lost, and a wealth of knowledge. In order for the secret to be revealed once more, it awaited the impassioned, meticulous gaze of the collector, or for them to let another experience the mystery.
Commonly, the compartmentalization of the objects would fall into one of these seven categories: Naturalia, Mirabilia, Artefacta, Scientifica, Antiquities, and Exotica. Encompassed within each category were objects that were meant to be unique, marvelous, and fascinating. Sometimes, bizarre and grotesque specimens were included, both the norm of an object, as well as the oddity. Common sub-groupings of objects include: Skulls and other bones, teeth, stones, shells, coral, feathers and wings, nests, fossils, botanical and petrified zoological items, treasures of antiquity, as well as religious artifacts, relics, and items said to contain magical properties.
Documentation of these historical collections is usually in drawings and paintings of the room containing the collections in the round. This interests me in that no complete collection would be fully realized as some objects were surely overlapped and placed in the background, or hidden in a drawer- A never to be known secret. Perhaps the items rendered in these reproductions in the forefront were more commonplace, or less controversial. Maybe the most interesting, special, fragile, valuable, strange, or objects of significance in some other regard were not in plain sight.
On the ceiling of his museum, collector Athanasus Kircher had the following inscribed. “Whosoever perceives the chain that binds the world below to the world above will know the mysteries of the nature and achieve miracles.” The secret that lay at the heart of all things is that reality is all one and that within it, everything has its allotted place, answering to every other thing, in an unbroken chain. The symmetry in displays assumed a role of crucial importance as it served as a way to draw distinctions. Accentuating secret affinities in this way gave the viewer a sense of comprehending this connection.
What once began with the notion of the arcane or magical in nature, between man and nature, as well as micro and macrocosm, brought the wunderkammer to it greatest heights of popularity within the Renaissance period, with a brief revival in the Victorian era. At a watershed between the Mannerist and the Baroque, the transparent clarity of humanism made way to a fragmented vision of multiple worlds, Philosophy and Aesthetics both explored the preoccupation with the fundamentally illusory nature of reality. The desire to exhaust to the full every aspect of the world and contain it within a finite space became increasingly understood to be impossible. This realization led to a decline in popularity of the wunderkammer. Once the collections lost their claim to reflect the multiplicity of the complex world, they could only boast that it contained only a few remnants of it. From then on, it was no longer possible to embrace creation in all its diversity at a single glance. This calls to my mind the transition of archiving information within the once imagined comprehensive encyclopedia, to the myriad of knowledge found at our fingertips on the Internet. In the past, the assemblages were private, secrets to be enjoyed by a privileged and wealthy few; such was often the case with royalty and their court, early on. Other times, collections were shared on special occasions, and later evolved into natural history museums open to the public.
It is significant to draw comparison between wunderkammers and other types of space, which appear to offer a paradigm for them today. For example, the connection the curiosity cabinets hold to modern museum space, displays within religious places, national treasuries, in the remaining collections of Renaissance princes passed on through centuries of generations, and in the cabinets established by amateur enthusiasts, like myself. Further understanding of the human fascination with accumulation, definition, and classification of the inexhaustible supply of wonders that compose our natural world, and beyond, has always been alluring to investigate.