My artistic practice investigates how listening, dialogue, and intimate exchanges can facilitate interpersonal connection, share knowledge, create transparency and investigate our experiences with power, prestige, and exclusion. Through relational art events that are documented with time-lapse photography, video, and more recently, audio recording, I create figurative paintings and drawings, and explore opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning; bringing me into the realm of qualitative analysis, media-based art, and installation.
In my practice food has often been used to animate relational exchanges; it is a gift to show thanks and respect, it creates safer spaces for discussion and exchange, and it sets the stage for larger community gatherings such as parties, art openings, family occasions, and memorial celebrations. I am interested in our behaviours when we are eating in the presence of others, how food can be used as a social lubricant, a celebration, a comfort, and a distraction. I’m also attentive to food and eating as an intimate act – a moment when we are taking something from the outside world and putting it inside our bodies, raising questions about inside vs. outside, opening ourselves up to moments of pleasure and the grotesque. I’m searching for moments of in-between that acknowledge the inside experience and the outside circumstance, instances that oscillate from composure to slippage, performance to self reflection.
The documentation of these events allows me to revisit the exchange after the fact, looking for repeated gestures, facial expressions and body language that could reveal the felt experience of the subjects. I commemorate my participants through portraiture and figurative representation, increasing their visual impact through distillation and repetition. I am interested in subverting the traditionally stoic, static postures of portraiture and figuration, and aim to both capture a likeness of the participant for prosperity, but also in the best instances, to uncover and reveal something about their private lived experience.
Portraiture has been used historically to commemorate important figures, giving a face to the people behind societal contributions, ensuring their significance and longevity. Throughout my career I have painted portraits in oil that disrupt the expectations of portraiture. Oil paintings, within the European tradition, immortalize monarchy and scions of capitalism. My work celebrates others, rarely venerated by portraiture: those who are decidedly not of the aristocracy and not of great wealth. These have included myself, older women, trans youth, equity seeking artists and seasonal agricultural workers. I have always been inspired by artist activists who reflect community and concerns back to the viewer, giving visibility and significance to their subjects through representation: Jordan Casteel, Annie Pootoogook, Jenny Saville, Alice Neel, Käthe Kollwitz come to mind. I want to contribute to this rich and important tradition with my artwork.