Untited (Chuck Close) / Big Eyes

This was my first solo exhibition in New York, and was composed of works I had made during my residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. This exhibition was the beginning of many themes that would continue to appear in my practice for years to come, including spirituality, the role of the artist, non-conventional art materials, and the use of humor.

Untitled(Chuck Close)
Archival digital print
4ft x 3 ft

In this piece I have cast myself as Chuck Close, referencing his iconic “Big Self-Portrait.”

In doing so, I poke fun at not only myself and Close, but the art world at large. I am humorously highlighting the ways in which we are superficially similar (balding, glasses, art careers, etc…) while also laying out the many ways in which we are dissimilar, particularly in terms of the art world’s hierarchy. As an artist fascinated by symbols, I am dressing myself in the visual markers of Close (a successful artist) and attempting to craft that same narrative for my own career, developing art credentials by association.

Big Eyes
Waifer board, paint
85" x 128" x 1.5"

Big Eyes began as a quick, gestural cartoon in my sketchbook, are displayed here at a massively blown up scale. In doing this I am asserting that these unfiltered impulses have the same artistic weight as any other piece that is shown in a gallery. They emphasize the spontaneous moment in which an idea makes the move from the mind into physical existence, and the joys of art-making.

My Dad with His Shirt Off
Archival digital print
24" x 30"

My father is a put together and public man in his community. By allowing me to photograph him without his shirt, he is exposed and vulnerable in ways that he would rarely let others see. In this piece I am documenting the intimacy that can be shared between loved ones. I am highlighting the love and trust between my father & I, and allowing the viewer to participate in this experience.

Cow Looking at You
Archival digital print
30" x 40"

This two images of one cow investigates the relationship between humanity and nature, particularly the inability to get a true understanding of the consciousness of one another. While we as humans can understand that animals have minds and personalities unique to them, we have no way to communicate our particular lived experiences to the other. Using the idea of the eye as the window to the soul, these images focus on the gaze between the subject and viewer seeking to bridge that divide.

Cow Silhouette
Archival digital print
30" x 40"
Custom inflated letters, motor, steel rod
6.5' x 6.5' x 10"

“G-O-D” is a kinetic sculpture made of three transparent, inflated letters that slowly revolve around themselves. Commenting on spirituality, this piece draws attention to the intangible, ephemeral qualities of a higher power. As the letters spin, they very rarely align to be legibly read, but for a brief moment they come together and the viewer catches a glimpse of its meaning. The cast shadows on the wall reference Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and the idea that of our perception of the divine through sensation of the material world is limited and cannot possibly provide a complete understanding of God.

G-O-D (detail)
jellybeans, crayons, wire, resin
5-foot diameter

Crafted out of crayons and jellybeans, this piece captures a feeling of childlike wonder. Visually referencing a dandelion on the wind, an atom, or an exploding firework “Jellybean Piece” recreates that whimsy and curiosity that is inherent to the human experience at birth.

Embeded Video

“Grapefruit Piece” features myself play-acting as a teenager locked up in his room, imagining himself as a rockstar, and violently eating a grapefruit in the process. Drawing on elements of the teenage imagination, rebellion, and feelings of being misunderstood this piece operates as a larger metaphor for the art world and the absurdity of making art. Artists often operate in ways that are highly emotionally charged and create things that on the outside can appear utterly meaningless but somehow still communicate with the viewer. This piece connects that absurdity with the melodrama of the angst-ridden teenager as a means to explore the role of art and the artist.