Over the ages, doubt, like belief, has assumed a variety of forms, from ancient Skepticism to modern scientific empiricism. Celebration of the state of doubt is also well documented through Socratic questioning to Montaigne's famous quote, "What do I know?" Those who question authority and reevaluate accepted-truths in every century have stood on the shoulders of those who came before them, forming a standard of brave thinking about truth. Through the practices of drawing, site-specific installation, sculpture and painting, my work considers the totemic themes of trust, transparency, justice, truthfulness, and knowledge.
On September 24, 2007 the president of Iran spoke at Columbia University amid protests and much controversy. I found the event, coverage and images of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compelling and made some drawings of him from various Web–based news sources. Drawing his face connected me to him—I wanted to know more about his past as well as Iran's history. I've continued to draw the face of a world leader every day since then. My goal is to isolate that person and try to understand their behavior, to be attentive and present as a citizen of the world. Before beginning the portrait, I assign it a position on the tabloid-size paper according to my sense of optimism or pessimism regarding their behavior--the higher it is on the page, the greater my hope for world harmony. Thus, I'm delineating an ever growing, biased global event time-line. To underscore the diaristic nature of the undertaking, I hang the drawings in a calendar format, in monthly grids. After I complete the drawing I scan it, returning it to its digital beginnings and send it back into the Web, to a museum staff member, who then prints it and hangs on the gallery wall, so that it mirrors my journalism-meets-journal studio installation and practice.
The title, of the piece, Currency, most obviously references my desire and attempt to keep informed of and bear witness to, world events. We speak of an idea having currency meaning that it is widely accepted and circulated. The title Currency also refers to the scale of the portraits themselves, which might evoke a bank note or dollar bill portrait, an image of power and money entwined.
Light Installations, 2002-present
In the site-specific series Light Installations, light and shadow from nearby windows seem to be raking the walls of the gallery. The illusion, however, is a hand-painted trompe l'oeil shard, often situated in rooms with little or no natural light. In this work I rely on the viewers knowledge and memory of light intersecting space to raise questions of belief and doubt. These pieces are meant to give the viewer time to enjoy not-knowing, and to privilege questions over answers. By puzzling the physical senses (setting up the viewer to fail at identifying something as elemental as light), these paintings celebrate the pleasure of trying to understand those things just outside the grasp of physical intelligence.
Paper Rooms, 2006
These sculpted paintings begin with a single piece of paper that I fold and cut to resemble a small room with windows. I then cast light into the room from an exterior source. Unfolding the room, I recall the places that received light when page was a box shape, and paint the light as I remember it. I embellish the memory by including an imagined exterior landscape. In this way, I think of the rooms as the retelling of an event, related to short stories and unreliable narrators.