Artist Statement 9/6
My artistic practice is rooted in portraiture and the role of the studio. I aim to explore the boundaries between image capture, performance, and collage. The subjects that I choose to photograph are often friends, muses, or myself, and are often revealed through fragments. The resulting highly crafted collages question the reality of the body and the environments they exist in. Made largely without the aid of cut-and-paste digital tools, the work begs to be physical and real. I like the idea of pushing a one-dimensional plane into and through others. As a society, we are focused on material reality, and our bodies are our direct link to that physicality: our bodies are the most solid physical example of what we know to be our own. There is something interesting in making imagery where, at least when you read it, you question if there is a moment where people go beyond the body as we know it - questioning the confines of the body by transforming subjects into uncanny contortions. There is an element of performance, whether the studio is a stage for enacting relations with friends or when I am alone composing myself in the mirror. Construction is also central to my work - creating sets for figures to interact with, manipulating film negatives, collaging printed material. There is a constant negotiation between the artist, the subject, the viewer, and the work itself.
I am very much influenced by modern dance, specifically the works of Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham, as well as studies of figures in action by Muybridge. In turn, much of the motivation that is central to my work comes from my personal struggles with masculinity, body dysmorphia, and gender role expectations. My newfound agency of self-expression has allowed me to address the various limits that conventional culture places on race, gender, and sexuality - something that I have experienced first-hand in my own upbringing and hope to continue to expand my own identity through creating this work.
I discovered my need to create things when I decided to alter my pre-med route and apply to art school – whether that is making images, painting, drawing – however, creating a photograph has always felt the most natural due to its direct correlation and reference to the real world. My initial drive to it was more so for the enjoyment and pleasure itself in seeing an image of yours printed, not necessarily about the subject matter. Nowadays, I think that I continue to make photographs because it is one of my only ways of expressing how I truly feel behind the façade of my real-world presentation. It is more a reaction to my current situation – feeling ostracized from my family’s religious and political views while still only allowing them to see a small chosen part of what I want them to see. Making pictures is very metaphorical in that way for me: I cannot verbally express to them who I really am or what I believe in yet, but I do have the power to create images that are genuine to my current self. Being a photographer also allows me to meet and form connections with other creatives, especially in the New York scene. I’ve collaborated and become friends with many dancers and subjects that I’ve photographed. Overall, I make the work for myself and I do not even want to start thinking about where I want it to function in the art world - yet at the end of it all, I do hope that it can speak to a larger audience.