There are at least three factors that influence my work, all involve past events. One of the most influential experiences in my development as an artist and the choice of materials I use in my work began during a grade school trip to a steel manufacturing plant on the Detroit River. The sparking red-hot molten metal, the heat and the height of the observation deck inspired deep and conflicted feelings of fear and exhilaration. This memory fuels and energizes my work, and explains my affinity for foundry practice and the casting process using bronze, cast iron and welded steel. Though Baltimore has been my home for many years, I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan, where I witnessed first hand the post war economic boom, the golden age of American manufacturing and its slow decline, beginning with the race riots in 1967.
The second factor is a collaboration with my father on a high school science project. My father (an artist) developed an anatomy class for art students that included the articulation of bones of a small mammal. Thinking this would be a great science project we could do together, we assembled the bones of a small canine. Though painstaking and tedious at first, I began to focus on the idea that these forms, found in the natural world, both contained and informed its structure. Later, I discovered, this notion also informs the way I make sculpture, the aesthetic of organic form seeps into the all the parts that make the whole.
After leaving Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, I escaped to California during the late 1960’s, where my life, like many of my generation, took a different course. I was determined to be an artist, but instead found myself enrolled in nursing school to ensure much needed financial security. Here is where I identify the emotional motivation for the generation ideas that derive from my experiences as a staff nurse, mostly on surgical units, but later in psychiatry, and its influence on decisions I make in the studio. I make prosthetic limbs and anatomical models that are a direct result of experiences working as an orthopedic nurse. The prosthetics might be mechanistic (Dada) substitutions, rendered inert but they are not lifeless and may even be useful for some purpose. The psychological integration of difficult materials and the expression of artistic meaning are synthesized through contradiction, fear and risk. The white tile surfaces, a recent addition, might be clean or sterile but not alien, a tableau for a sculptural narrative. My most recent sculptural installation, Hippocrates Promise, still in progress, asks questions about memory and it’s power to revive perceptions and stimulate the imagination. In the process of making, I also engage in the process of healing. I’m also a bricoleur (or tinkerer) by default, experimenting and improvising with detritus and found objects evocative of the Industrial Age that imbues the work with nostalgia for a bygone era, and the city of my birth.
Currently I’m employed as an adjunct Assistant Professor of Art, teaching part time at Goucher College in Baltimore. This past summer I curated an international exhibit titled “Go West,” funded by the “Think Big” grant offered by the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. I also installed outdoor work at the Adkins Arboretum, the bi-annual Outdoor Sculpture Invitational, curated by Mary and Howard McCoy and exhibited work in “Sculpture Now” Washington DC, juried by Sarah Newman. Highlights of other exhibitions include “Critics Pick, Art Today in Words and Images,” in 2007, curated by Irving Sandler and Eleanor Heartney at Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, Maryland, and two solo shows; Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and the Montpelier Center for the Arts in Bowie MD. I was selected as a semi finalist for the Sondheim Awards, 2010, and the Trawick Prize, sponsored by the Bethesda Arts and Promotion, in 2006. In the past 4 years I’ve completed four commissions for the staff of the Baltimore Ravens. In 2011 I was selected as a fellow at Salem Art Works, in Salem New York.
Internationally, exhibitions include “Aurora Borealis” an invitational group exhibit at the Beim Handelsmuseum, Bremen, Germany, in 2007 and nationally at the International Sculpture Center, Hamilton NJ, Loveland Museum, Loveland, CO, and Delaware Center for the Arts, Wilmington, DE. My work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, The Anvils Ring, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, City Paper and Bmoreart.blogspot.com. My studio has been located at Area 405 for the past 10 years, a large industrial space in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.