My work isolates representations of fossils and artifacts in the manner of museological curiosities. The preservation of these coveted objects becomes neglect as they are removed from their stories and contexts. I want to understand this dualism of caring for defunct things. It is too late for the dead, but not for the living. This body of work that I have collectively named Trace Fossils is my declaration of uncertainty and my thesis on potential multitudes within objects, narratives, and people. In spite of understanding my limitations, biases, and the ultimate failure of truth, I seek knowledge.
I use the medium of oil painting to connect histories of extinction to the legacy of collection and categorization in European art. I specifically reference the baroque period and its dramatic light effects that illuminate the exotic specimens and ephemera of the Enlightenment. The dramatic yet static pronk still life paintings of this era and their values intrigue me in their influence on museum conventions that persist to this day. Being in dialogue with these origins allows for a consideration of the shortcomings and virtues of such a way of studying the world. The subjects of my work are all themselves remnant specimens of stories that have been plucked from their place in the world and represented on the canvas where their image may be reproduced but their physical forms and functions fade into the past. There is a false sense of security in “preserving” a vanishing or changing figuration. It conceptually removes the subject from life for the sake of its own safety and is then subsequently alienated from the extant world.
The lonely figures situated in melancholic, ambiguous places are able to be visually studied but are unknowable in another sense as to why they have been depicted. It is not until I am able to tell the story of the subject that a viewer might be able to better form an interpretation of the painting. The narrative is introduced in the form of sound pieces that accompany each of the paintings. There is a historical relationship to the object, my own personal one, and the novel one of the viewer. Ultimately the paintings are not meant to be understood wholly by any singular articulation of information. Somewhere between the different representations and interpretations lies an ineffable truth of the subject. Definition can be helpful but potentially a trap; having an answer can lead to the end of curiosity.