Artist Statement for exhibition at CAC

   Surface Tension  , 2015, created for the "After the Moment: Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe" exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati. OH

Surface Tension, 2015, created for the "After the Moment: Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe" exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati. OH

 
 

"He saw the art world for what it was -- another closet."

- Dave Hickey

Sitting through another rote ninth-grade Catholic mass, I closed one eye while looking through the other and held up my index finger to block my view of Christ's loin clothe.  This modest sculptural garment seduced me more than the remainder of the sensuous, nude figure in all its glory over the altar.

During my formative years growing up in a small Kentucky town next to a large military base, Fort Knox, I could not find any signs in my world view that reflected my innate, same-sex attraction. Oppressively internalized homophobia, barred me from the taboo of gazing openly at a male body.  To fulfill my longings, I would remain inconspicuous while glancing, sneaking a peek or using my peripheral vision when in a locker room or the open showers to garner a glimpse of erotic nourishment.

I was 23 years old when the exhibition, The Perfect Moment made it's debut with Robert Mapplethorpe's X Portfolio, rarefied photographs of sadomasochism and homo-eroticism.  Creating images depicting a hot subject matter by employing the cool detachment of a formalist aesthetic, he presented large audiences with an openly candid view of queer people.  Exclamations about obscenity and pornography -- these were not titillating pictures -- masked an acknowledgment of the real threat -- visibility.

The antithesis of Mapplethorpe was Felix Gonzalez Torres who created poetic metaphors connoting intimate gay subject matter by utilizing minimalist installations and sculptures.  His innocuous art functioned subversively by delivering visually seductive forms loaded with latent gay content.  My methodology falls somewhere along the spectrum between the frankness of Mapplethorpe and the subtlety of Torres.

My subjects tend to allude to something sexual, sometimes humorous.  I appropriate crop, enlarge and invert pictures from the internet -- using Photoshop -- to push the point of representational legibility to the brink of abstraction.  Most of the time, one cannot decipher the image without moving further away or viewing from multiple oblique angles.  Once one sees it, one cannot, not see it.  My artwork poses a challenge for one's unconscious assumptions about gender and sexuality.  One's way of seeing or not seeing is oriented by one's background, visual memories and social conditioning.  It's difficult to see things differently.