CONVERSATION WITH THE ARTIST
Originally From: Birmingham/Troy
Currently Reside: Royal Oak
Years working as an artist: 8
How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
I seem to gravitate towards the comedic and morose. In the past couple of years I’ve gotten more ambitious with multi-layered, narrative-driven themes. I’ve always considered my body of work to be all over the map, though I’ve been told that my deliberateness is the common thread that binds it all together.
What mediums do you work in?
I’ve worked a lot with acrylic and latex paint. Otherwise, I try to use whatever medium best suits the subject matter, e.g. baseball cards, pine tar, bubble gum, digital video, ready-mades, multimedia performance. The list goes on.
Can you talk about your process?
I usually start with a sketch or an idea written out longhand. From there, I do a ton of internet research - downloading images, reading articles, etc. Computers play a huge roll in my creative process. I often utilize many different programs, spending countless hours distilling an idea down to its essence before it can take on a physical form.
How has your process evolved or changed over the years?
When I started out, I had a backlog of ideas that weren’t necessarily related to one another. As a result, my first couple series were a bit in-cohesive. For the last few years, though, I’ve been more interested in creating complete bodies of work where each piece supports a larger story.
What are you currently inspired by?
I follow a lot of artists on Instagram that are making exceptional work. It seems like my favorite artists are not only talented, but extremely prolific as well. They serve as a constant reminder that you need to be really good and work really hard if you want people’s attention.
Why did the Las Vegas shooting speak to you and inform this show?
This shooting didn’t follow the same format as compared to other recent mass shootings, which makes it particularly intriguing. The extreme proximity of the perpetrator to his victims and the shear amount of damage inflicted makes this event truly unprecedented. In some ways it’s as mysterious as JFK’s assassination.
There’s an immersive, almost participatory aspect to Welcome 2 Paradise, how does that tie into your larger practice?
My background is rooted in architecture so I try to create site-specific environments for each of my exhibitions. I like to engage the viewers’ senses beyond just the visual by utilizing a venue’s unique features in ways that add multiple dimensions to the work itself.
You've spoken before about religious connotations in your work - does that apply to this series? If so, how?
The wrath that was unleashed in this particular shooting was almost biblical in scale: 58 dead, 413 wounded and hundreds more injured. There’s a YouTube video showing concertgoers saying the Lord’s Prayer together as bullets are ricocheting off the ground around them. Also, Christ-centric symbolism is often prevalent in the wake of a mass shooting. It’s routine to see Crosses for Losses pop up at yet another memorial for the victims.
Is there something you hope the people seeing your work will take away?
I hope people will take a moment to meditate on the magnitude of what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, but also become familiar with some of the details they may have missed the first time around.
What are you currently working on, and what’s next?
I am preparing for the follow-up to my 2017 ASCENSION performance at Red Bull Arts Detroit. The “Second Base” act will take place somewhere in midtown in 2019.
What is something many people don’t know about you?
My sneezes come in fours.
What is currently your favorite:
Work of Art:
Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle
Piece of advice:
“It’s about what YOU take from life.” – Billy Corgan
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
What else should we know about you and/or your work?
I also love taking photographs, but have never shown them outside of the internet.