This self-portrait, and the next couple to follow, are in part an extension of the ideas that I have been exploring in the wire paintings. Here is an excerpt of my artist statement for those paintings:
“The most interesting pockets of the American landscape lie just outside the standard visual frame. Those areas of quiet and sometimes neglected spaces are filled with all the things we’re not supposed to notice, like abandoned buildings, unkempt sidewalks, and most notably, electrical and telephone wires. Wires are the most elegant and loneliest-looking of American infrastructure, but they serve as a sort of proof that—much like a heartbeat on a monitor— there is life here.”
One element of electrical and telephone wires that interests me is that they act as points of entry into our lives and as avenues of exit from them. Objects, ideas, or individuals who occupy the liminal spaces in our lives excite me. In these self-portraits, I’m placing myself in the margins (or more specifically, the lower half of the painting) and in doing so, my body is spanning multiple borders. I’m interested in exploring why we choose to connect or escape the spaces we occupy.
Now for the hat. Sometimes I add things in self-portraits for practical reasons, reasons of composition or design. One thing about the way I work is that the viewer sees it backwards from my view: I work from a mirror, and the part of my hair gives it away. By placing a hat on my head, I can alleviate some of the weirdness. Other times, I add a prop of sorts to help me get into the painting, to maybe think of it at times as a character. It’s lonely looking in that mirror. Sometimes you need a hat-buddy. It also gives me a way to connect a series of paintings together. If these three self-portraits all have a hat or a prop or a string of some sort, it helps to tie them all together. Otherwise, it’s just three dumb paintings of little ol’ me.