You grew up in a family of artists. Did you encourage each other in your works respectively? Would you talk about or even develop ideas together at times?
The real encouragement was found in just fostering an environment in which creativity wasn’t weird or eccentric. My mother studied study art in college. My dad wrote. My brother is an animator. My aunt is an artist and art teacher. My other aunt went to school for photography. I actually use her archive often to cull images. I hoard—I’m an image collector. So in that way, the relationship is collaborative. Similarly, my mother took some paintings she made in college out of storage a few years ago and asked if I would want to paint on them, making a collaboration spanning decades. We called it Three Paintings (1981-2013). Painting over those images was incredibly difficult and nerve raking, but it taught me a lot. Nothing is precious in painting; nothing is holy. You have to risk destroying something sentimental.
How was the experience of being an artist in residence at Artha Project?
The Artha Project really changed my practice and my life. One: it was incredible to have a group of people believing in the work I make so thoroughly. I'm forever appreciative of that. They gave me and two other artists (Rebecca Mosena and Brian Brown) that cycle a huge studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yards from August 2013 to the August of the following year.
The space was important. Before that, I had never had a studio outside of my living room, and while I painted some larger paintings there, it was limiting. At the Navy Yards studio, a former resident left two huge 5' x 8' canvases and I made the two biggest paintings I have ever made. Conceiving of work that big, the physical time and energy, and the painting concerns all were new and challenging.
Since leaving that space, it's been a struggle to find a studio that functions for me in a similarly productive way, but I believe the year there at the residency made me a more serious and ambitious artist.
Is it important for you to stay in touch with other artists? When do you find yourself seeking solitude?
Of course, and there are several outlets for that connection. One being the city I'm in makes it very easy to see shows and speak with other artists. That's not always the best way for me to engage in the work. Even with my close friends, I need a lot of quiet time. It's a struggle when you need that time with other people and then you need maybe double that alone to regroup energy.
You roam different outlets for inspiration or models for later paintings. Can you sometimes sense what it is exactly that draws you to an image or scene?
You can't ever see things head-on. It's only peripherally you can begin to understand what you're getting at in painting. I do work from a variety of divergent sources. It's an unexpected and unplanned event for me to stumble on an image that resonates. When I take a step back and look at the body of work, then I can see some common threads. I'm interested in versions, re-enactments, doubling. The history of an image, whether it's degraded or transformed. How the representation of a person is influenced by all of that—masks and obstructions.
I had the impression that for your most recent paintings you predominantly chose muted colours. Is this a deliberate choice? Or rather, what’s the reason behind this?
Lately I'm interested in colour schemes, plans, and restrictions. How much can I get out only a few colours if no others are allowed. The less you have to work with, the more you have to push and think. Exploring simultaneous contrast and other minute colour shifts on the canvas. The work now is definitely less loud, but I think more complex and intelligent.
Whose work are you following right now?
Heidi Hahn. She's a really excellent painter. I recently interviewed her for Packet Biweekly where she is finishing her cover residency. Ginny Casey, Kim Westfall, Kelley McNutt, Winslow Laroche, Aidan Koch... Eric Wiley's paintings are always next-levelling, but are particularly impressive right now. The work I likely follow the closest is that of my partner, Ian Lewandowski, who is a great photographer. We work through ideas, critique, and influence each other. Nicole Reber. Chris Nosenzo. Devin Morris and his project 3 Dot Zine. He works a lot with Theresa Chromati as well. Her drawings are wild.
Do you find yourself working differently depending on the environment you’re in? If yes, can you give examples?
I'm pretty adaptable—I just need a wall and a window. Usually if I'm briefly in a place and can't take my oil paints, I'll work more with gouache on paper. Or I'll focus on drawing.
Do you plan your days ahead, or rather like to stay flexible?
I have to plan things down to the minute at this point.
Are you listening to music while working? Do you prefer a loud/busy or silent environment?
There needs to be music playing or silence. I can't focus on anything when people are speaking. Diane Cluck is my favourite musician to listen to while I paint at the moment.
What’s you’re favourite spot to go out for dinner?
Crock-pot at home.