Until recently, my work has generally been based around the idea of story. Whether these stories were from memories of growing up, family history, or those that had been shared with me—there was always a reason behind what I created. There was safety in those stories, and if a viewer dug deep enough or long enough, they could always find the clues to understand my work.
Along with these stories was a personal vocabulary in the materials I used, which included wire and rust. The wire I used for over 15 years was baling wire, a wire that was traditionally used to bind up, shut out, and fence in a family or homestead from the unknown, or in some ways, from actually being known. Having been someone who always dealt with depression, when I read Andrew Solomons’ book The Noonday Demon, I was enlightened to read “Mild depression is a gradual and sometimes permanent thing that undermines people the way rust weakens iron.” He went on to add, “If one imagines a soul of iron that weathers with grief and rusts with mild depression, then major depression is the startling collapse of a whole structure.” The reality was, I had allowed my Bipolar Disorder to rust my identity to the point of collapse, rather than allowing Christ to define me.
I attended a workshop in Bennington, Vermont lead by Dean Nimmer, artist and one of the winners of the College Art Association teacher of the year, called 100 Drawings. The workshop focused on allowing intuition to guide your artwork, rather than relying so much on a plan for completion. I brought with me my traditional rust patina that I was so comfortable with; however, I had not allowed myself the freedom to use it as an actual mark maker. I also semi-intuitively brought along a contrasting gold glaze paint that I had bought from a local Lowe’s. I came in knowing I had allowed my work to become too familiar and preconceived, and that the innate Christ-led artmaker in me had lost his way. The week proved to be life-giving and rewarding.
Working on three different colored art papers, I began making intuitive marks first with the rust, then gold, and finally a beautiful contrasting blue. The gold proved to be such a startling contrast to the rust, both in reality, and also in theory. The old was being made new, as the decay of rust was being overtaken and simultaneously enriched by the shimmering gold. The combination of the gold and bright blue made these works come alive in such a way that one might easily imagine how the gold and rich colored fabrics filled the Tabernacle in the Old Testament.
I hope you find the work to be life-giving as I did, and hope that the eyes of your heart are also enlightened as you view this work.