**Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CSPS is temporarily closed to the public**
I have been involved in a continuous exploration on how an art can effect change in our contemporary community today. Artists are pioneers who sometimes do amazing and fearless things, having that determination and persistence for yourself - but also making an influential difference for others. I think some people that overcome big obstacles believe in something bigger than them selves. It’s always been a visual ploy of mine to evoke that combination of desire, depth and power, whether it is sexual or not. I associate pleasure with humor and try to have it present in my life and in my artwork, I think my humor has a deep
connection to trauma, anger and pain. My color choices are personal and decisions are intuitive with an attempt to mirror the contradictions and complexities of the individual. “The Rainbow Warriors“ exhibition in September 2016, at Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, marked 15 years since 9/11, and I, like many people, have a very personal story attached to this particular moment in time, my perspective was changed from that point on and ultimately it influenced some of the introspective and philosophical issues that are present in my work. The “Rainbow Warriors” painting was inspired by the individuals killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting and was created to find some optical and physiological alternative to mourning. Fabricating a 4-inch diameter hole at the center of the diamond-shaped prism painting, then working within the architecture of the Angels Gate historical space, I drilled a hole that looks out to the sky and the western direction at the main port in Los Angeles. This show also marked the first gathering of the collective ritual’s I have been producing. Much of my artwork has been inspired by the paradigm shift that has taken place since 9-11.
My practice has centered on both the negative and positive sides of social authority & control. Carl Jung philosophy calls it: “the shadow” the deep journey of interiority, truth, and psychology. The paradoxical truth of the psyche is that to ascend - we must go down first. Election day of 2016, has been called “the psychological 9-11”. It was complex and difficult to talk to my students and I found it very hard to find relevance and intentionality in my art practice. I went looking for answers. On November 16th, 2016 I listened to a talk by one of my hero’s, Angela Davis from Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. In the speech she stated some difficult realities that we are all struggling with on many different levels - she spoke in truths. One of the writings she quoted at the end of her lecture was from “An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis” by James Baldwin - November 19, 1970:
“…..If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our name. ——— If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”
These timeless words spoke to me when I needed them most - and when I could really hear them, I then set upon a new series of paintings which became “Feminist Alchemy”(2018). For this series of paintings on wood, I researched the planning, architecture and symbology of Washington DC. Using Google Earth to view the capital city from an aerial perspective, creating an inverted, “feminized” version of the city’s monuments, opening a dialogue that responds to historically masculine symbols of power. One of the works called “Goddess Eye View”references the Washington Memorial, a giant obelisk which was inspired by the Egyptian obelisk ‘Tekhenu’, a phallic salutation to the sun god. My version sees the memorial topographically from above, transforming the masculine symbol into a universal one, In these works I propose a kind of “contemporary feminist suffrage” forging alternative frames of reference with new perspectives that lead us to a re-vitalized kind of perception, empowerment and equality. I am presently researching and producing a new body of work, this work is deeply personal, as I am attempting to deal with some of my own individual traumas around identity and internalized homophobia. “Gateway to the Dance Floor” & “Divine Beauty Permeates all Things” are paintings that have developed from my research at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries in Los Angeles. This on-going series of colorful paintings on linen are abstractions from some of the original floor plan’s of the disco called “The Saint”(1980 to 1988), this nightclub defined gay nightlife in New York during its most tumultuous and literally plagued decade. The Saint nightclub offered multi-sensory pleasure, As you entered the upstairs, the participant was pointedly directed skyward, featuring a circular, 5,000 square foot dance floor topped by an aluminum dome where 1,500 lights would shine, multiple disco balls, as well as constellations. Its experience was clearly meant to be uplifting and inspiring both visually and metaphysically. The production of these paintings represent a place of queer utopia and euphoria. The definition of utopia is sort of impractical, idealistic scenario, these symbolic environments are important because they come from a sense of hope and prospect, where there is a real possibility that things can actively change. Using these visions of hope, I try to create fantastical brilliant environments where you are safe, empowered and fearless. A place where you can be queer, out of the closet…a powerful human being. My belief is that transformational art arises from relationships with others and through ongoing social awareness and participation. My desire is to connect with others through the process of painting, to effect personal and environmental change, particularly changes in consciousness.
CSPS Hall Main Gallery