CalArts (California Institute of the Arts)
I have long been interested in the pairing of European and African or indigenous aesthetics as social commentary. I also address the influences and similarities in indigenous cultures and the differences within modern societies. Through imperialism and colonialism we have erased a tremendous amount of culture. Modern civilization has developed because of these cultures that we call primitive. Even though now limited, sometimes we forget how complex these so-called primitive societies were and still are. Through ceremonies, and artistic rituals that were engrained in every aspect of life, human expressions were created. Principles of social and political organization, history, philosophy, religion and morality were and still are presented publicly through various types of masquerades. In my work I use these images of African or indigenous people's headdresses that are simplified and dismantled with the use of stencil, and placed over collage. This is a way of showing the importance of cultures almost destroyed or left behind. Are the days of imperialism and "manifest destiny" over? This is a question that the majority of my work is based on. Since the early 1990's my work has involved the creation of conceptually based 2D social/political works involving war and violence. I use the figure to directly connect people with some of the more negative aspects of our human nature. There is no identifiable gender or race to each figure. I like to dehumanize the figure to show the ugly behavior we can be capable of. They have multiple pairs of hands, feet or other appendages. It is also interesting to compare more primitive ways of violence and warfare to modern day occurrences. The first way we learn violence against one another is by punching or kicking. Now we have multiple ways of annihilating millions of each other. It is interesting to ask the question "Where or how do we learn violence?" I wonder, "Does the male species tend to be more violent?," and if so "Where do we learn this from?" In 1993 I began mixing different types of disciplines such as collage with painting and drawings. I use two or more cropped photos that are half identifiable to the viewer and combine them to create a new image. There is also an interest in using my own photographs mixed within other collage photographs. I use images that have a relation, but only in certain ways such as topic, composition, or shape. In this way many images connect to create one new image. As in the piece New Colonialism 2 the horse is also the clip of an assault rifle, or in New Colonialism 1 the figures face is a fire from a car bomb. I want to show that the great power we can exert on each other, even when negative is almost beautiful. Flowers bloom out of darkness to show contradictions between beauty in life and death. Color Xeroxes and magazine photos are overlapped to create landscapes and environments made from images of destruction and chaos. The figure often times is transparent and the landscape can be seen through it. Or the figure may float above or beside the created realms. The collage is mostly made of vague hints to public figures or historical events. This is an important way to connect current events to subjects that relate from the past. The work I create is meant to make the viewer wonder about the possibility of change, or if it is possible. I want to draw attention to these patterns of genocide and violence with varying amounts of different mixed media. It is interesting to confront the viewers with the "political" statements being made through images that have been manipulated to change their meaning.