In a technological age that takes William James’s “buzzing, blooming confusion” to new heights I maintain an old fashioned love of paint. Painting makes visible the complex relationship I have to landscape and my longing to know, to understand, to get it right, not through some facile nostalgia, but an exquisite joy—wrought from a deep desire, an ache, a pain, a craving, a great wish, a yearning. It is an ever-renewing quest to resolve dualities—earth and sky, matter and spirit, immanence and transcendence, representation and abstraction—to understand my place in the world.
“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth” are lines from a Rumi poem, a perspective on art and life, that for me has been long in the making. My lifelong relationship with beauty, I owe to my short-lived life with my mother in urban New Jersey. Art as Landscape has been my go to place for personal and social understanding for as long as I can remember. Rooted in those early years the questions and concerns my work raises today are no different in kind. Not a place painter, I do paint from a poetics of place, wherever and however that manifests on any given day. A leaf, a branch, the ridge, an edge of cloud, something that has called to me, that invites interpretation, becomes the lens through which my lived experiences are filtered and articulated. In this way, Elaine Scarry’s notion in On Beauty and Being Just, that beauty compels “replication, a begetting, the means by which we renew our search for truth and our concern for justice” resonates deeply while Dennis Dutton in The Art Instinct, reminds me of how I live the aesthetic urge to find refuge and survival in landscape.
Whether or not landscape painting can still be practiced by people seriously engaged with the history of art or if landscape has to find expression in various local and regional contexts as James Elkins asks in Landscape Theory, on reflection, compels me to ask how landscape as ideology, the political—or landscape as phenomenology, the poetic resides in my work? How do my paintings unearth or bury over the substrata of power relations in art where landscape, since at least the late 19th century is gendered female and hence devalued? In what ways do the paintings call forth landscape as myth and memory? How do they construct and carry the spiritual and aesthetic, the beautiful and the sublime?
“Art is dream realized,” writes Wendy Steiner, “and this is why we value it—as an earnest that our dreams might be realized in life” renews my interest in Carl Jung and how it is my work articulates dreams imagined, dreams thwarted and dreams fulfilled. In the end, my greatest wish for you, is what poet Ted Hughes wanted for his work, that you come with the “imaginative attitude of a co-author—to enter as deeply and richly as possible, my imaginative worlds” to find your place within them so that you may know and occupy more fully the landscapes of your lives.