How did you get your start in the visual arts?
It all started with mud pies…my earliest memories are of making little pots from the mud in a wooded clearing near our house in rural Kansas.A I must have been 4 or 5.A Later I branched out to figures that I made out of cloth and wood scraps from my mother’s sewing basket and my father’s wood shop, which I sold to family and friends.A I remember that my most expensive art work at the time was priced at $ .50.A Mom thought it was a little overpriced!
I think that artists are born, not made, and the most critical component of the artistic temperament is the patience -or the compulsion-to work a piece through to completion.
Where and from whom did you get your technical base?
I have an MFA from Yale Drama School in set and costume design, so my skill set is slightly different from what the graduate of a visual arts school would have. Ming Cho Lee, a reknowned set designerA who has designed numerous sets for the Metropolitan Opera and other internationally know theaters as well asA the Chinese Courtyard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was an important mentor of mine.A He is famous for his very beautiful drafting, and is responsible for my love of the pencil drawing.A I have worked as a set designer for the Juilliard School, Yale Repertory Theater and the Alaska Repertory Theater among others.A Over time, I found the intensively collaborative nature of working in the theater difficult and discovered more scope for personal expression in the solitary practice of fine art.
What styles do you incorporate into your art?
I consider myself an expressionist; I’m more concerned with conveying the feeling of being alive rather than with rendering a pictorial likeness of someone or something.A I want to convey something direct and visceral to the viewer that transcends cognitive thought.
Some people have described my style as “cubist” butA the resemblance is more apparent than real.A I am an interested student of art history and have been influenced by”outsider art”, australian aboriginal art, the Chicago “who” and Brazilian street art among others—I am alwaysA looking!
When do you feel that a piece is finished?
I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said “editing is the only art.”
Knowing when a piece is complete is at the foundation of every artist’s unique art practice and is different with each artist.A I usually find I am finished with an art work when I manage to surprise myself.
Who if anyone would you like to collaborate with?
If I wanted to collaborate regularly I would have stayed in theater.A Having said that, I have collaborated with other artists-and non-artists-on public art works and would consider doing it again, depending on the project.
How do you view technology being integrated with art?
I’m in favor of it, when it’s well done, which it often isn’t. A A couple of successful practitioners are William Kentridge (animation) and Bill Viola (video).A I sometimes think artists feel they “should” incorporate the latest technological bells and whistles in an effort to be “modern”.A But, toA paraphrase Laurie Anderson (no slouch in the area of technological innovation herself) it’s possible to be very “modern” with a paper and pencil.
What makes visual art different from other forms of expression?
Great visual art has the capacity to contact the viewer on a level deeper than cognition and beyond speech.A It waits quietly for human attention, then rewards it over time by altering our experience of the real world.
If you were reviewing your work from afar, how would you critique it?
I critique my work every day in the studio in my effort to make the best work I can with the talent and materials I have.A I don’t think it’s possible for an artist to be completely objective about his/her work before a “cooling off” period after the work is completed.A Usually after that I am surprised at how much I like it.
How have you seen your work evolve over the years?
I find I’m able to get to the essence of the work more quickly and directly than when I first began to make art.
How would you position yourself in the art world if you had to do it again?
I would definitely choose to be a man.A And I’d marry an art critic.
Which audiences do you want to connect with?
I’m not picky.A Ideally I’d like to be universally loved and admired.
What is your opinion on the arts within the education system?
In the visual arts I think that on the elementary level schools do reasonably well, but the quality of instruction and the commitment of the students seems to fall steadily thereafter.A It would be great if schools could teach aesthetics- that is, visual literacy-not just how to make art, but how to look at it.