Imagine walking down your average city street in America. Especially in an area hard hit by economic collapse. Storefronts lie vacant, the streets are barren, paint peels off weather worn walls, and signs which once advertised booming businesses rust and droop from caving in facades. Tired, the city sighs a sullen exhalation, lamenting its many years of neglect. On such streets, nature waits patiently, longing for the day of its verdant return. In broken sidewalks, sprouting up amidst the cracks, grass springs up in tufts of green spray. The roots of trees, with herculean effort, push up concrete slabs as if trying to free themselves from their earthly shackles. Animals scurry at night, leery of headlights and the thunderous whir of spinning wheels on the tired pavement.
Now imagine, for a moment at least, that this gray world, sprouted forth from its own refuse, an organic landscape vibrant with color, texture, and alive in flowing form. In windows, storefronts, across buckling walls, bursting out of floors and ceilings – a coral like mass of alien life forms transforming space into scenes of beauty and grace. This is my vision. This is COLONY.
The first in a series of unique organic looking installs that transform under-utilized and abandoned space into flowing organic looking sculptural landscapes. Like an invasive species out competing its rivals, these colonies will spread. Anywhere there is ruin, a Colony may take seed. So, as you walk, numbed by worry or transfixed by the soft light of technical gadgetry, please remember to take notice of the life around you – for in some forgotten recess or a crack in a crumbling wall, you may just stumble upon a new world. A world filled with strange life forms -- a colony that no other eyes have seen before. Now go forth and explore.
Materials: cardboard and plaster paper.
Normally I bread all of my artwork with oatmeal which is then dyes with fabric dyes. For this piece I wanted leave them raw so people could take in the beauty of the non-altered material.
Termitaria install at Olin Art Gallery
(Washington and Jefferson College. 2016)
The beauty and complexity of nature is best understood through an examination of the multitudinous forms which exist as flora and fauna. Simple shapes when repeated create complex structures, the designs of which are not only elegant and beautiful, but also functional. In nature nothing goes to waste and what is oftentimes perceived by humans as a flaw, is exploited by another creature -- used to their advantage. An example of this is when a hole or a crack in a tree is used by a squirrel or some other animal as a refuge from the elements. Beauty and purpose are united in the common cause of survival, just as simplicity and complexity of form are determined by need. The rich tapestry of material, texture, form, color, and design, which nature weaves through strata and substrate are fascinations we humans ignore at our own peril, for knowledge, discovery, and aesthetics are mere fantasy when they are not rooted in a firm understanding of the natural world.
Termitaria Install at Kent State Downtown Gallery
Termitaria Install at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center
Termitaria is an ever evolving install which grows and adapts to its environment. These pieces bud in a similar fashion to living corals, with each piece becoming the germ for a whole new organism.
Pyroclastic Flow Install at Mentor Marina Park
This install was part of my ongoing series called the Mimesis Art Project. The Mimesis Art Project is an ongoing art project where I use pieces designed for use in future art pieces and set them out in nature so as to blur the lines between what is art and what is nature.
These pieces were altered further and later used for my art piece "Pyroclastic Flow #1".
Another Install for the Mimesis Art Project. Over the course of an afternoon a friend and I trekked through a forest and down a creek in search of places for me to install these pieces. Although these pieces never made it into a finished art piece, they were later used in other installs and will continue to live on through photo documentation.
Along the beach of Lake Erie are so many wonderful nooks, cranny's, and fallen logs. There are so many places where art and nature can meld into one seamless entity. This install, which was part of my Mimesis Art Project, blurred the boundaries between the natural world and what art can be. Some of these pieces were most likely used in my finished piece "Green Internode #1.
These pieces were originally intended for a free standing installation piece. While constructing the piece, I became increasingly disenchanted with how they fit together. I decided to scrap the piece, but before doing so, I wanted to let them live on through this brief backyard install. Over the years I have learned to embrace failure, for without failure one would never be able to understand what is possible. The breaking of boundaries can only be done through constant failure.
Accretions Install at Mentor Marina Park
The beach is always one of my favorite backdrops for my Mimesis Art project. Not only does the sand provide an easy way to install these individual pieces, but the backdrop of either the water or the trees grants these photos a soothing charm. These pieces were originally used for my Colony Install. Eventually they will return to nature through a new project I call "Decay Fields".
Before letting these pieces return to nature, I wanted to give them a farewell install at the Mentor Marina Park. I love exploring notions of impermanence and how the same art pieces can be used across multiple installs as they morph and transform themselves from one iteration to the next.
While making my piece "Peridium #1" I ended up with many more pieces than I could use in the finished piece. I hope to use some of these pieces in a future "Peridium" piece. Until then however, using them in this ad hoc backyard install will have to do.
These pieces were the remnants of an install titled "Blight" that I did for an art show at Waterloo Arts.
Blight Install at Waterloo Arts
The theme of this show centered on plastic, especially the over reliance on plastic and how it relates to the consumption of water. I don't usually work with plastic because it is not a medium that is easy to manipulate into an organic looking form. Instead of manipulating the plastic I turned it into a vessel which held fluids and materials that glowed in ultraviolet light. This was done in order to evoke a sense of toxicity. I also wanted to make the bottle into a form that was not easily recognizable. Something that appeared organic, hence obliterating the sleek human made design of the bottle's form.
Culmus Install at Columbus Cultural Arts Center
For awhile I had been struggling to find a way to up-cycle oatmeal containers for use in my artwork. Most, if not all of my work is breaded with oatmeal so over time I tend to amass quite a few of these containers. These simple forms don't allow for much alteration and though this install was swapped out for a different set of pieces I created, I am still glad I made them. Since then I have found another use for my many oatmeal containers.
The pieces for this install were created by me and mostly consist of paper cup bottoms filled with various up-cycled materials so as to create Petri dish like growths. The design of the install however, was created by the gallery owner William Rupnick. This show titled "Fragmentation: Seed, Spore, and Polyp" was my first solo show.
The same pieces I used for my "Fragmentation" show were used a year later at my second solo show titled "Unnatural Selections". This free flowing install was created by the gallery Owner Amy Mothersbaugh. The piece was so long and sprawling it spanned two walls and the ceiling. Too long for a single photo.
This install was part of a project that used empty storefronts in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland as settings for installations and other art pieces. It was the only time I used my "Termitaria" pieces in conjunction with my cup bottoms.
Input/Output Install at Survival Kit Gallery
This install saw three different iterations across several different galleries. With each successive install I distilled this piece down to a more stripped down form focusing on the main aspects of the piece. These photos are from the first install which was more elaborate but not as focused as later versions.
For this install each artist was given a small room to the unused upstairs of a shuttered bank in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland. The room I got was small, cramped, and couldn't be altered, so unfortunately there wasn't much I could do. I enjoyed the opportunity though for it was not only fun but also my first install.
Materials: dyed scrap paper, fishing line, and sinkers.
Overwinter was inspired from the overwintering of Monarch butterflies at the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve.