For the past few years, I have been exploring how multiple histories collide in timeless fashions. This concept has become a catalyst for my painting compositions that explore and expose the boundaries between reality and memory, between chronologically lived experiences and simultaneity. Fishing as a young boy and serving a tour of combat duty in Iraq converge inexplicably. The icy platform of Minnesota fuses with the ruin-dotted deserts of the Middle East. Fish become mortars and mortars become fish. A white landscape is thickened with earth tones to provide a sense of terra firma, yet it is also dream-like. These juxtapositions converge in my recent work, creating a visual conversation that can begin to inform the viewer the continuity in life experiences, no matter how different.
I firmly believe that the act of creating art is a way to study how humans function in the world. My work is not only a look into my own narrative, but also a look into how we as a society can find similarities within different cultures. This can teach us how our different histories collide, mirror, and repeat themselves; and we come to realize that as diverse as the world is we all share common histories and behaviors. These similarities are passed between cultures, across paradigm shifts and through simultaneity. Spending a month in a rural Northern Italian town, I was able to see firsthand a traditional farm culture that is on the verge of being wiped out by the western mass-consumerist, agribusiness monster. As I painted my observations, I became aware that my very act of painting is creating new spaces, a new world based on my histories, experiences and observations, including the observations in that small town. This act of painting is an awareness of the world around us, and how we can create continuity within the world. As an artist, I believe it is my duty to record this world, these multiple histories and witnessed events as I partake in and observe them.
I am very aware of the roles that war and violence play in my work, for they destroy and create cultures as quickly and forcefully as a bomb detonates. Vitality and action are breathed into my painted landscapes through the recurring themes of active figures stuck in time, surrounded by unstable bombs. These bombs, posing as fish, threaten the characters representing me, all against backdrops of disjointed landscapes from multiple histories. Simultaneously as a young child ice-fishing and as a young adult fishing for bombs in Iraq, my memories are no longer the past and develop into a new present tense. This unstable paradigm seemingly becomes a labyrinth of simulated possibilities presenting a world for my characters to contemplate and choose their destiny, yet their fate is as fragile as the convergence of bombs and ice. These paradoxes create a visual tension, and nonetheless, these bombs could explode this fragile world of ice and ruins, blowing it all sky high. In a blink of an eye, my memories, experiences and reality could all cease to exist.