Many of my paintings focus on the power of repetition and the variety of ways repetition can be used: as a mantra, as an educational aid, as a memory device, as a sign of obsession, as a method of torture, as the set up to a punchline, as a display of insanity, as an engine of efficiency, as advertising, as emphasis, as an instruction for proper hair care.
My word piles began as a response to Anish Kapoor’s 1000 Names, a group of piles of powdered pigment. His work was a meditation on the vanity/absurdity of trying to battle impermanence. In response, I used an extrusion process to create 1,000 versions of the word “name” in three-dimensional acrylic paint, and assembled the dry words into a pile. In some ways, my work is similar to Kapoor’s: both feature brightly colored piles; both celebrate absurdity. However, the pieces are very different. In Kapoor’s work, everyone is equal once reduced to the sands of time. Any piece of powdered pigment removed from his piles will look like any other piece. And any speck of pigment removed from a pile will become an insignificant piece of dust, meaningless when apart from the collection. In my word piles, every piece retains its own identity, uniqueness, and meaning, even when removed from the pile. In every piece, the artist’s hand is clearly present (as handwriting). Furthermore, my 1,000 names are made of acrylic, one of humankind’s more permanent creations. In the battle against impermanence, my acrylic names might survive, if not in the history books, then possibly in that plastic gyre spinning in the Pacific.
Related to this theme, I made similar piles using the words “crane” (also referencing the origami tradition of making 1,000 cranes for good luck), and “pound” (mostly so I can make jokes about lifting 1,000 pounds). I also departed from direct references to Kapoor with pieces like the 400 blows (referencing Truffaut’s movie) and a pile of cocaine (made after learning that many people misunderstood the blow reference).
But repetition is only one theme that interests me. Through all the work, I have been exploring the three-dimensional properties and possibilities of paint. In the names of all my facebook friends, I recreated the facebook experience in paint. I wrote the names of all my facebook friends in “facebook-blue” acrylic squiggles. Like facebook, some friends’ names are fully visible; others are partially obscured; most are lost within the mass of other friends – they are there, but you will never see them on your wall. In spoon, I sculpted a functional spoon out of paint.