Artist Statement

The real breakthroughs happen when you least expect them: under pressure, during banal conversation, in a meltdown. At first, these breakthroughs seemed random and unrelated to each other; for three years it was this way. With all the blessings of persistence came the bittersweet burden of stubbornness. I was stubborn. When I thought I knew it all, my deaf ear haplessly sheltered my fears. After spinning wheels again and again, I conceded. The source of this perpetual cycle wasn’t coming from the outside. There wasn’t a satisfying answer that would neatly solve all my personal conundrums, so I went inward. I never knew it all to begin with and perhaps it was time to shut up and listen.

Not surprisingly, it worked.

The works I make these days may look radically different from each other, but Don Sibley kindly reiterated a concrete fact to me last semester. Like the many students that have preceded my time, I struggled with the insecurities about material, meaning and making. When I lamented about the discontinuity and fragmentation of my work, he proved to me that it was not. As I spent those Wednesday afternoons furiously scrapping paint onto paper, he picked out the good, the bad and the ugly; things in my past that I thought I had retired to the dustbin of history.

And then it hit me: it all came out of that dustbin. The research paper about language death, the character of a brushstroke as I practiced the bamboo leaf, the love of light bulbs, the fascination with negative spaces, the violence of inner city Chicago, the nagging fear of the debt collection calls, the people who have kindly shared their passion and knowledge with me…

The venerable dustbin of many moments before this one suddenly sparkled with gems I overlooked time and time again. These are the tools that shape my work. These pieces draw from familiar icons, metaphors and mythology to help navigate through the fog of insecurity. It grabs the language of vision and weaves a moment of clarity in which we can objectively see our selves not as “others” but as “people.”

Tearing down these invisible walls that plague these modern times can begin with a story. I tell stories to open us to things that we have shamed ourselves into never challenging before. I twist the very pieces of the cultural landscape into narratives that we all understand. The seeds vital to a cognitive exchange reach beyond polarizing ideals. Thus, by utilizing the tendency we all have to chronicle and share our lives, we also cultivate the yearning to awaken from this anguished slumber. For we have slept too long.

More academic theories could explain my work, its influences and its significance: visual language, remixing, postmodernism, dada, stream of consciousness. I could give you one thousand theories, but everything ends up in the dustbin, waiting for the day of its rediscovery.


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