My love for painting stems from coming from an artistic family. As a child my mother instilled in me an artistic practice that provided not only a way to express and cultivate my imagination, but also provide an escape in stressful times. I recently graduated with a BFA from James Madison University and have shown in several fine art gallery settings. During the summer of 2017 and 2018 I continued my education with the Vienna Academy for Visionary Art. Fall 2017 I had the honor of being named Artist of the Year with the Crystal Chalice Awards. I am exploring all the different paths open to me, and while I’m excited to see where I go I am thoroughly enjoying the journey.
Art is an immortal entity; it leaves lasting impressions on people that can change the course of their lives. As an artist, my goal is to make people think about what it really means to be presented the opportunity to be alive, and to be in the moment. When people turn their gaze to my art, they are presented with a vaguely familiar feeling of connection with the world. For a moment, they remember what it feels like to be present. Here, now. I challenge the viewer to think on a deeper, more introspective level; to forget the arbitrary status symbols that we are trained to know and love, and to remind them of the interconnectivity of the universe that made everything possible.
My art is heavily inspired by my perspective of the world and my spirituality. When I was young I developed a particular connection with nature and the spirits that dwelled there. As a small child, I was terrified of bees, and my mom told me to sing to them. She said that they’re much more afraid of me than I am of them, so as long as I’m gentle with them, we can live in harmony. That idea really opened my eyes, and inspired me to be a voice for the spirits who can’t speak: the spirits of the forest, of the water, and of the creatures.
To me, my art is a spiritual practice and a form of meditation. I start off with an idea and a basic color palette, which I use as a springboard. I feel that if I become too attached to an idea, I minimize room for innovation and true creativity. Concrete ideas also diminish the mindful, meditative aspects of art making. Instead, I opt for a flow state, which has general direction, but no opposition to change. I feel that this process allows for not only channeling my subconscious, but also becoming a medium, translating the energy of my immediate vicinity into colors and forms.
Live performance painting at music festivals and other events has been an incredible way for me to understand this channeling. I quickly noticed a distinct difference in technique and subject matter between live painting and painting at home or in a studio. In the performance environment, I have minimal time for judgment or second-guessing decisions or ideas, which often results in a completely different painting than what I originally imagined.
Painting in front of an audience has also awakened me to a couple philosophies. One: art is not for the elite. People in the United States often associate art with elitism; that only a select group is allowed to understand, whether it is based on intellectualism, socioeconomic standing, or even spiritualism. Though my art is heavily imbued with symbols and spiritual/religious philosophy, the art object is not reliant on them to understand the meaning. Two: My personal meanings for a piece not only mean nothing, they actually hinder the viewers’ ability to fully experience the art. The most heart wrenching experiences I’ve had have come from peoples stories of woe and joy upon looking at my art, and if I set out to tell them what I think, it affects their ability to see outside of the lens I have given them, and therefore creates an permanent disconnect between viewer and viewed.
I also view my art as a form of activism. I aim to show people how all the aspects of the universe are connected in some form or another. John Muir said that when you tug on a string in the web of the universe, everything else is affected. By displaying serenity and tranquility of nature and showing how beautiful it can be, I hope to evoke that feeling in the viewer, and in turn they might view the world differently, and create a ripple effect to those who may or may not ever even see my art. They might decide to pick up a piece of trash, or feel called research a little deeper on issues that cause destruction to Mother Earth. Or maybe they dig a little deeper, more introspectively and question how their decisions and energy affect the energy and flow of everything around them.
Through it all I hope to inspire people, rekindle the sparks of passion in their hearts in pursuit of personal truths and understanding. Take a walk in the woods, sit by a river, sing, dance, let your energy flow. Talk, and listen not to reply, but to understand. Live in harmony with Earth, and with all its dwellers. It’s a long road ahead, but like Wookiefoot, sings, “Peace is not the destination, it’s the road.”