The Hybrid series is essentially an amalgam of works, welded together by theme and narrative. It is driven by process, and incorporates both traditional and digital media. The weld exists primarily through the methodology of collage, and is an homage to this method while at the same time, it’s a weaving between the virtual and the “real.” While creating these pieces, I weave in and out of both modes of working. Some begin as pixels, some as photographs, some as paintings or drawings.
We work, we separate, and segregate our lives into tidy compartments of being. At some point we realize they are all one and the same. Just like the World.
The beginnings, however do not predetermine the end results, for by the time I have completed a piece, whether large or small—the final work is that amalgam of all the processes employed in building it; of weaving in and out of many different media and modes of working. The final primary works are unique, as is a traditional painting, collage, or assemblage. Yet, the various stages of creation result in elemental parts which may be multiple series, such as a traditional organic woodcut print, or a digital composite work printed on paper, glass, metal, or wood. Add to this process the varied sequential studies and maquettes I make in working out the final outcome of the larger unique work, and you have what becomes, in the end, a large body of smaller pieces intrinsically tied to the creation of the primary end work; that unique work of art I mentioned above.
How this series came to be
It’s actually sort of like the chicken and the egg, and stems from my history as an artist, from student to painter, illustrator to graphic designer, then a return to fine art full-time in 1995. From my youth through college, I thought of myself only as a painter, with a few forays into printmaking, collage, ceramics, and photography. Early on, however, I rarely merged any of those four media. It was as an illustrator I began to combine media, largely in the effort to best support (visually speaking) articles, stories, or advertisements. In publishing and advertising, that’s the traditional role of both illustration and illustrator. Graphic design, when you think about it, is incorporating many different media into a single two-dimensional format intended to offer a very focused and engaging message. It’s essentially an orchestra, playing usually to a private audience of one. Unless one is at a public presentation—a concert; an athletic event.
Once I jumped ship from commercial art, it was back to “being a painter.” Being a painter, however, is just an idea, a label, and I often chuckle as my efforts to inject different media and methods at that time, now remind me of the film “Being John Malkovich,” which portrayed an idea of a very famous man who suddenly finds himself invaded by the presence of many persons just seeking a 15-minute experience of being within his mind; his consciousness. Malkovich, as portrayed by himself in the film, was becoming a chaotic collage, a mixed media puppet, a pastiche of mundane people seeking a thrill.
Warping and weaving through media and methods
Within six months, the multi-media part of my experiences as an artist had become one with the painter, leading to image transfer of drawings, photographs, and various other two-dimensional media, similar to a designer, but with very different goals. Every picture does tell a story. Every painting does create an engagement. Within a decade it was hard to say I was still a painter, knowing I had migrated into what’s known as an interdisciplinary artist. The media had expanded into film, sound, woodworking, digital art, photography, and words. I have, over the years, produced much of my work as series. One look around this website will be proof enough of that. But series of artworks have a grave similarity to television series, in that they all, eventually, have an end.
Around 2003, the digital and virtual arena began to call to me as a creator, and for a decade painting lagged behind the keyboard. Writing grew, as sort of a parallel necessity, both to record what I was doing and why I was doing it, as much for myself as the public, or any perception of posterity. By 2013, I was predominantly working in various digital media. Discovery was the driver throughout those ten years. It was around 2014 or 2015 that the realization of having become a Cyborgian-Luddite emerged; a creative individual fractured into kaleidoscopic parts, in terms of being an artist. In terms of being a person, the dichotomy of living in a high tech, speed-oriented culture while always having appreciated old ways and a traditional, simpler, and more restful world has had the same effect upon me as a member of this current world culture as technological prowess; of exponential speed and delivery, as it has upon us all. We are under duress, we are being compressed. Our privacy invaded and disrupted for the sake of social media gains in the world marketplace. In short, the subjugation of our natural human circadian rhythm by the techno-industrial corporatist culture. Heady stuff. As I worked on into the end of 2016, all the organic, traditional modes of making art began to reassert, and the idea of a hybrid process of working took hold. For we are nothing if not the sum of our parts. With the Hybrids, that’s the starting point.
“The trouble with normal is it always gets worse…” ≈ Bruce Cockburn
At that point, something opened up, and I could not get shed of it. That’s what art is. That is what art does. It doesn’t imitate life; Life imitates Art. The idea to delve into all modes, all media that I employ, to build to a crescendo of that final work. The process pieces are the base of the pyramid, sloping inward and upward to the capstone work.
I began researching older images, legacy photos, and other remnants of memory such as letters, old advertisements that related to topical themes and narratives of being simpler, more humane, less complex and more appreciative of ourselves, our happiness. All the vestiges of a less restricted and deeply personal life. In these works are brief glimpses; glances we missed in passing, moments frozen which in just a couple of generations are lost to the present-day viewer. Suspended moments now unknown to us, apart from our own memories, yet in some lyrical fashion, suspended as phantom strangers within the emulsion of old photographs. For in such images are recorded moments of lives, of architecture past, of homes once cherished and now razed. All consigned to that deeply personal inward space which we collectively agree to call “memory,” but not one which belongs or resides in us. It has become collectivized.
Memory is by nature an irresolute and deeply personal experience which never aligns with our neighbors or even those we have loved deeply. Memory is suspension. In the time spent in South Carolina after she, my aunt, and the lady who raised me have all now passed, I’ve honored a promise to my Mom. She was very interested in how this all developed (as Mothers are by both nature and design) I did not realize at the time that such a promise would be realized while attending to my mother’s and aunt’s estates. Such is the power of loss that it disinters that which is deeply buried to reveal itself again much closer to the surface. That dynamic is a powerful place in which to begin new creations. It was a promise to begin the Hybrid works, to allow them to gestate if you will, through the use of our own broad collection of family photos, all inscribed beneath the surface with now scattered, much older memories of extended and nuclear family members. Tales from another time, another age, to offer a reprieve to those of us who have long passed and only barely recalled. After all, to address who we are today is not possible without a clear and factual knowledge, and understanding, of who and what we once were—why our concept of “we” came to be what it is, and what it is not.
Especially in this day. In this age.