Over the past few years, my paintings have begun with my own personal symbol, a pair of shapes based on an old-fashioned lock and key. This symbol is based in Yin-Yang philosophy, an ever-swirling way of thinking about complements and opposites, as well as the history of Western painting: A keyhole is a symbol for single-point perspective. Consequently, many keyholes refer to multiple perspectives. This is why the grid is a model for modernist painting: No one perspective is privileged. It is also a direct path for understanding how my work is about diversity and identity.
My complementary key and keyhole forms echo my now completely interwoven Eastern and Western experience with art. What unfolds in these paintings is the step-by-step process by which a thing like a pig becomes an image, a personal symbol (I recently became a pig farmer), and a broader symbol that others can see (like a piggie bank) that can stand for ideas like prosperity, frugality, or even wealth and financial transactions.
These transformations follow quantum logic (topology) where the changes take place in qualitative steps rather than on a quantitative continuum. These topologies also echo the roles of identity within our culture, how recognizability and identity depend on each other much the same way that people need to agree on the meanings of words before those words can have real meaning in society, culture and conversation. The process by which a pig can become recognizable as a piggie bank is the process by which we create, share and design culture.
Finally Wear the Piano (2015)
My painting is about process – not just the process of making, but the processes of acquiring meaning in a culture. My content is more about systems than things.
I am interested in how many steps does it take to finally wear the piano – and what does that process look like. This might sound surreal, but the way cultural systems create meaning is surreal. How does an object become a picture, and then a personal symbol, and then an emblem and then the illustration of this process? How did designers’ names become the normal stuff we wear around on t-shirts? Would we wear ads for cars or insurance companies? Particularly with fine art, I am interested in both how and why how this happens. My work is metaphorical but it is also specifically about the role of metaphors within this system where meanings change step by step.
A piano is a tool for music. It is used to make something. And yet it connotes many meanings. And when someone uses it as a leitmotif, it can take on any number of new meanings.
My symbol is a keyhole and key. It implies a visual lens, a door to pass through and different perspectives. It implies the relationship between looking and the process of perspective. A tilted circle becomes an oval – implying an angled position away from a flat circle. A shadow implies not only a specifically positioned light source, but the mediating object’s distance from the surface on which the shadow is projected.
The word “Finally” in the title is a lot like a shadow. It says a great deal about time and intention.
I use my forms and my keyhole symbol in particular to imply many simultaneous perspectives. Painting isn’t something that finds meaning alone. It is a cultural phenomenon. It requires society. It requires cosmologies and philosophies because it is about perspective. If there is only one perspective, there is no dialogue and there is no subjectivity. But we don’t live in a one-way world… at least, most of us don’t.
Painting, for an artist, is a physical activity. So is looking at a painting. It’s not passive. You bring your own subjectivity into contact with someone else’s. It’s a social phenomenon that happens in shared space.
So bring your own perspective. Bring your own ideas. Bring your own priorities. And bring your friends. It takes all sorts to look at a painting.