The Lazarus theme explores a state of bound helplessness.
From the Bible we know Lazarus as a symbol of hope, rebirth and inspiration. My Lazarus Paintings series examines the concept of bringing back to life themes that I first worked on over three decades ago- returning to them with deeper insights and life experiences, along with a more painterly and assured style.
These narratives include Lazarus, Icarus, Madame Butterfly, Jacob Wrestling and Irene/Patron Saint of Nurses. In some of the paintings I have worked from models session photos from the past and in others I have used more recent photos of models who have become collaborators in the performative aspect.
In general with these themes I would like the viewer to contemplate the importance and power of myth. Greek myths, Psalms, Bible stories, operas and ballets all tell stories of human struggles common through time and across all perceived differences. They can teach us, open our hearts and imaginations, and help bind us together.
The connection between banned books today and the 15th century monk Savonarola lies in the suppression of ideas and information.
Just as Savonarola initiated the Bonfire of the Vanities to burn "immoral" items, contemporary censorship and book bans restrict access to certain knowledge, limiting intellectual freedom and cultural diversity.
Fra Angelico's fresco at San Marco in Florence, Italy, "The Mocking of Christ," serves as a powerful reminder of the suffering endured by individuals throughout history. Rather than paint Christ's humiliations in their full violence in a complex narrative work, they are reduced to a series of iconographic symbols. In my depiction, I chose to represent Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, whose tragic death highlighted the consequences of hatred and discrimination.
Both instances underscore the importance of compassion, empathy and a commitment to combating intolerance in our society.
Several years ago on a trip to Paris, I was excited to visit the Pompidou Museum where I could see an all blue painting by one of my favorite artists, Yves Klein. Unfortunately, as often happens, there was a strike and the Pompidou remained closed for the duration of my trip. Luckily, the gift shop was still open, and
I was happy to find a postcard with "Monochrome Bleu (1960)" by Yves Klein. Later at the hotel, I took a photo of my white shirt hanging with the postcard in its front pocket.
Once I was back home in California, I painted two different versions of the shirt, using the same theme.
It has always been part of my process to have bulletin boards in my studio filled with art postcards, announcements, magazine and newspaper photos, as well as lists and notes to myself.
My bulletin boards paintings (with close-ups) begin as random found images. If a particular thread unfolds I will play with various juxtapositions in an attempt to convey a certain theme.
For example, "Fleeing The War in Iraq" has a newspaper photo of a man sitting in front of a tent with a caption that reads: “Fleeing the war in Iraq to safety in Jordon.” On the same bulletin board is a painting of boxers by George Bellows, a Malevich cross, and a close-up of flowers, all images that could also allude to war.
"Remember Emmett Till" includes a newspaper photo of Emmett Till, a 14-year- old black boy murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The case was re-opened in 2005 and the body of Emmett Till was exhumed in an effort to reach some measure of justice forty-nine years later. On the right side of the diptych is a large black and white painting of traffic markings (right turn only). This image comes from a series of Polaroids by Walker Evans taken in 1973. “ONLY” could read as a metaphor for exclusivity in our society i.e.: males only, whites only, rich only, etc.
The "Art News" triptych makes reference to the November 2002 issue of Art News magazine, as well as the news of the death of Richard Avedon. Avedon's photo of "Dovima with Elephants"is pinned to the bulletin board below the cover of the Art News Magazine. On the cover is Gilbert Stuart's painted portrait of George Washington with the words: "Is There a Fake in the White House?" The question refers not only to the authenticity of the Stuart painting, but also, undoubtedly, to the 2002 presidential election. Two additional images on this canvas are both entitled "The Conversation." One is a painting by Henri Matisse and the other a work of Sean Scully's inspired by Matisse.
For many years I painted images of art books that were either stacked, opened or floating in space.
When painting the spines of the stacked books my interest was in finding titles to play off of one another both visually and conceptually. In a sense they were paintings of stacked words.
In the open book series I was interested in how the images on facing pages, one often a detail of the other, were distorted and foreshortened.