"Tar and Feather Painting, First Variation"
THE Finite Province of Meaning
"Tar and Feather Painting, First Variation"
Large -Scale: Dimensions Variable
What has attracted me to tar and feather my paintings is the significance of meaning that the material suggests; it allows me to ask the question: "what kind of treatment can painting endure"? Suspending the canvas horizontally on cinder blocks is one formal way to investigate this idea and is the first in a series of seven versions each using a structural method to hold a tarred and feathered painting up to scrutiny. The painting becomes a type of offering; In a certain sense, I am offering a painting up for contemplation to ask about its identity: How should it be treated? What defines it as a language? How is meaning created and deciphered? The raw and aggressive treatment towards the artwork is in contrast with the formal properties of the piece because as a painting, it maintains an aesthetic appeal. This duality intrigues me because "Painting" as a language, contains a multitude of meanings. What is most important to me is using certain materials and creating particular structures that allow for a painting's identity and social function to be questioned; not to limit its capacity but to augment its possibilities.
Tar and Feather Painting, Variations 1 through 7 is the first series within the The Finite Province of Meaning. This expansive body of work addresses materials and their use and function in relation to painting, realized through the forum of sculpture.The photographs above are of the first piece to have been built on site. Also included below are the Studies for the rest of the series . The drawing for the "First Variation" indicates how directly the artwork transfers from a rendition on paper to its realization in space. The series can be presented in its entirety or one/multiple pieces at a time(dimensions vary, depending on the site).There are eight series' ; each consisting of seven Variations(see Studies below). There is not a rendition of the seventh Variation because those final versions are to be made on site, without a visual guide. There are many reasons both cultural and personal about my chosen mediums and their implications to how/why they articulate "meaning": Each material engenders a notion of "reading into" its application. "Gold Leaf" and "Tar and Feather" are exemplary in that they not only reveal applied "readings" but they also represent a vast dichotomy of association. There is a literal connotation because of the wider perception regarding the medium's social and historical significance. However, for me the real "meaning" is in the inherent differences in the materials that foster our "reading". The repeating structural framework within the Variations, heightens the same/different dichotomy.
The remaining series, "Graphite/Disegno", "The Flaying of Marsyas", "Naught", "Nights Descent", "Bubble-Gum Pink", " Cyperus Papyrus" have a similar placement of medium yet offer a different decipherment regarding the mediums associations.
This body of work has been conceptually realized on paper, yet there remains a process of creative interpretation regarding each specific artwork. For example: in the 6th Variation of each series, the shape and color of the cage(frame) can change depending on how the work comes to fruition in a given space; the 3rd Variation from each series can have any color line(or multiple colors) on the outside of the plexiglass; all of the suspension pieces have an option of the cables and / chains to be painted or covered with caulking or resin which would alter the work from its rendition on paper, not to a tremendous extent but in a subtle way, allowing poetic nuance to still play a part in the realization of an individual piece.
The Finite Province of Meaning constitutes,personally, my Magnum opus in theory and practice. Aesthetic experience is the phenomenon that generates and heightens the encounter between viewer and art object; it reflects a dimension in our psychology that precedes word usage. The entirety of this series is geared to that moment of encounter because I believe that painting is not just an object we look "at" but something we also look "through", coming close to sharing the same creative space as the artist( or at least in a certain sense, participating in that creativity). The aesthetic experience is as much about how we can intensify time and space as it is about increasing perception and thought. There is an aspect of the stage quality within The Finite Province of Meaning but it is actually more of an altar, those societal arenas that generate a place for religious ceremony through a methodology of ritual. The irony about realizing the entirety of Finite Province is that before I was able to bring this work to completion, both formally and conceptually, the series of sculptures titled "Guardians of the Finite Province" had to be made first(see Sculpture in menu bar)...... as if some sort of protector of the creative self had to be in place before I can lay claim to a unique manifestation about painting. The "Guardians" are talismans acting as gate keepers to the "Finite Province" . I needed to expand the formal space of painting in order to better articulate what it means to me.
"Tar and Feather Painting" (studies for Variations 1 - 6)
Dimensions variable. Painting suspended from ceiling by metal cables. Metal hooks pierce the corners and sides of the canvas.
Dimensions variable: Painting rests on floor inside of an iron cage. Cage is open at the top. Multiple versions of this single piece are possible: different heights and colors of cage
Dimensions variable: Painting suspends from the ceiling by cables and hooks, 3 ft. above the floor. Plexiglass cube encloses the painting. A line is painted on outside edges of cube, dividing the exterior from the interior.