Most of my life, I strove to be perfect, in behavior, school and sports. Life soon taught me that I had little control or effect on most of life's events. At my lowest points, art became my refuge to make sense of the chaos and opened a space to just be. Hope you enjoy my journey's creations thus far.
If I constructed a portal out of the debris of my world, then I thought it may lead back to that world, whole again on the other side. After the storm, I picked through the rubble of my house making two piles: what could and could not be salvaged. Finding among the debris a destroyed photo album, I looked through images of myself so saturated with marsh water they were hard to recognize. Not having a recognizable past, future possibilities seemed both more uncertain and more open. Because I had no narrative I was free to wander, creating my own journey in hopes to find wonders for which I had yet no words. The narrative I would create after Katrina would not be, I promised myself, the limiting one typically fastened to those born in the deep rural South but rather the one I managed to salvage from my life’s flooded foundations. My photographic project has been about envisioning a new world to inhabit, creating it from the images of my past. I overlay images of rubber on top of each other, applying opacity masks and blending them together. As layers build-up, my images become saturated with fragmentary visual information. Just as water degraded my family photos, digital manipulation destroys the recognizability of my new photos, freeing them from their referents, rubble, to take new forms.
Abstraction, for me, is a technique for opening up space, allowing for different interpretations. When a viewer looks at my images, I do not want them to see disaster but to be sucked in by color, form, punctum. Once they have looked at the image for a long time, its visual content begins to become more apparent, the contours of the rubble separating from the ground it is enmeshed in. After I have finished digital manipulation, I place the photos in water, opening them to elemental damage. Water operates as another opacity mask, but even as this element makes the images it submerges more difficult to make out, it also reflects light, illuminating them. Out of fragments, I am, in the end, left with more fragments. My technique of salvaging, constructing, manipulating, and destroying is an imprecise art, crude as a duct-taped levee. My fragmented images struggle to coalesce into anything but a field of possibilities, a space of visual rubble in which I hope the viewer can pick through and construct their own narratives and salvage their own meanings.
At one time, I’d been seduced by the conception that like a body, photographs should on their surface show traces of what they hold inside. As I attempted to integrate figures into my images, I was, however, surprised by a realization that was generally freeing yet utterly opposite of what I'd thought: the surface of an image, this flat 2D plane of color and form, did not need to reference some inner truth. When I asked a friend for feedback, he said sometimes my images seemed flat, though the image I’d hoped to convey had crests and troughs like a wave, a storm surge peaking at thirty feet. When that wave fell, it uprooted trees, knocked down power lines, raised houses, leaving a flat surface, the bare ground exposed, marked only by wind, water, and everything it once held. In my photos, I hope to capture that surface, flat yet marked by the contours of a world wrecked and washed away.