Artist's Statement for the TWU M.F.A Exhibition
Since graduating from Louisiana State University
in 1962, I have been a full time commercial artist and designer.
I have designed and produced two and three dimensional work
for three science and history museums, a commercial exhibit
house and now, for the last twenty one years, my own art business.
Parallel to this has been my teaching and personal work in
drawing and painting.
About twelve years ago, while perusing a flea market, I discovered
a wooden peg top of a type that I spent many pleasurable hours
spinning as a boy. It instantly brought back nostalgic memories
of my father teaching me to spin tops. The feeling was so
overwhelming, I bought the top. Two years later I had a sizable
top collection and it is still growing. I’ve also collected
other antique toys such as lead soldiers, airplanes, die cast
figures, Sky King rings and a multitude of other childhood
icons. My father is no longer living, but fond memories of
him flourish around these objects. The next logical step was
to make art related to those memories.
I keep sketchbooks with drawings and notes of what I feel,
think, imagine, see and read that is germane to my work. I
draw and photograph still lifes of toys. I photocopy these
images, then cut, fold, recombine, reverse, enlarge, and reduce,
the elements to stimulate and enhance my seeing capacity.
My work at Texas Woman’s University has been a continuation
of this toy series but with far more variations on the theme,
and more development toward abstraction and inclusion of three
dimensional elements. Initial drawings and photographs of
a tableau of airplanes and tops have evolved into dozens of
derivative drawings and paintings. I allow my imagination
to run free while looking at the drawings and seek new meanings
and images within them. A drawing viewed sideways or upside
down can suggest airplanes in the sky, or on the ground being
viewed from above, or crashed in a landscape, or any number
of different situations. Wings become buildings, propellers
become windmills, broken lines and marks become figures. Airplanes
grow to huge proportions but are fragmented and deconstructed.
More and more I am letting the painting lead me in this dance,
pushing and pulling, adding and subtracting paint and marks
until the painting has some semblance of being right. I am
intrigued by images that are not definitive. Those qualities
of multiple layered meaning along with varying degrees of
abstraction are what I am striving for.
My work, which started with watercolor on paper, progressed
to acrylic on canvas and finally to acrylic, collage and three
dimensional elements on one by two inch reinforced plywood
panels. These panels give me a rigid surface for more easily
integrating three dimensional parts. The most recent evolutionary
step of the work has been the breaking through of the solid
surface of the picture plane to reveal compartments inside
the panel. These compartments, housing soldiers, toys, figures
and drawings, become a metaphor for the finding of earlier
signs of life as in archeology sites. These found or revealed
icons are either framed in rectangles or are in “holes”
simply broken through the panel surface. Some are covered
with metal bars or with transparent Plexiglas adding more
layers of meaning to the pieces.