The work I make is connected to rural culture. I make drawings and prints that record objects belonging to a rural environment in an ecology of transition. I grew up in the farmlands of Southern Ontario when big tobacco agribusiness was at its peak. Communities changed rapidly as small farms adapted to industrialization agriculture. Transformation and adaptation, for good or bad, made a permanent impression on me.
My approach is governed by the Japanese concept of mujinzou, which loosely translated means inexhaustible supply. I may have an idea when I go to the studio, but many theories fail during investigation, which leads to new passages. I allow myself many failures, then explore the unintended consequences. Often the by-product of initial attempts contains profound meaning. I think navigating the passages can be more significant than the finalized state.
I begin by looking closely at a subject, methodically using the same image over and over to understand my subject better. Once the image gains a life of its own, then I can look at it, think about it, and revise it. Revised drawing are now an expression of a new thought, rich in emotional expression and poetic aftermath. What is left behind by erasure or alterations is the debris recording the drawing’s history, exposing it to a richness and depth that happens by chance.
The cyanotypes I am currently making addresses the alchemy of change itself. Initially, I was attracted to the intensive blue ghost-like images. Cyanotype is a cameraless photographic process of two chemicals, ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide, when combined in a solution becomes sensitive to UV light. The solution is applied to paper or cloth, and exposed to sunlight or an UV light source. After a final washout in water, areas receiving the greatest exposure turn the distinctive Prussian Blue creating a white image on a deep blue background. I further alter the images by applying bleaching agents and inserting letterpress text. Cyanotypes married with letterpress were better suited than my established drawing methods, for inserting text into image.
The cyanotypes are about the study of land, water and sky and documenting the transformations of inanimate forms found therein. The surface of the cyanotype, partially buried partially under plants, earth or objects, subject to the uncontrollable – overcast skies, wind, moisture, inadvertently engages other elements from the landscape and over time records the unobserved environment. Like the erased parts of a drawing, the surface both holds and sheds debris from the landscape, which functions as residue of the physical inscription of place.
I work full-time as an artist and this gives me a great deal of happiness. I am usually working in my head. I am thinking about projects as I walk, shop, and do household tasks. I make mental notes on changes to things I am working on. I cannot predict who or what will influence how I see or think about what I am working on, only that these experiences will subtly revise how I critically think then technically express themes in my work. The time spent in the studio is far less than the time spent thinking about, making notes on, and preparing for actually working. Working in the studio is my way of being alone, of being curious, of seeking clarity. It is often a confusing, uncomfortable and frustrating way to work, but if I persist long enough, new paths are uncovered.