Parts: Auto Salvage Work 2011-2014
My recent work is inspired by visits to auto salvage yards where customers pull their own parts. At these sites, row upon row of used cars sit in various states of disintegration, looted of body panels, engines and other valuable parts. While some of the cars have been involved in accidents, in most cases the damage to the vehicles happened after they arrived at the salvage yard. Engines wrenched from their compartments leave a tangle of hanging cables and wires; dashboards are peeled away to reveal the normally hidden inner workings; and missing doors and seats leave the interior of the car a hollowed-out skeleton.
Over the past few years I have examined this subject from a variety of viewpoints, including portraits of the individual cars and views of their disassembled exteriors and interiors. My recent work focuses on sections and parts of the stripped cars. For me these forms are strongly suggestive of the human body, and there is a disturbing sense of violation in the casual way that the vehicles have been dismantled. I have tried to highlight this figurative reference and to experiment with formal and technical approaches that allow the work to embody the sense of vulnerability, fragility and disfigurement that I perceive in the subject.
Most of my recent paintings have been made with water-based media on paper, which enables me to crop or extend my images throughout the working process. I can add or remove sections of the paper at will, allowing the work to grow organically as the image develops. Fast-drying media such as acrylic paint and ink allows me to re-work the images in a spontaneous way and has also contributed to a looser, more open-ended process.
In several new paintings I used a collage technique to construct the forms of the vehicles themselves. A recent large-scale painting, Front End, was created from dozens of old drawings that were ripped apart and recycled into the new image. The technique creates a rough, layered surface that viscerally conveys the feeling of fragmentation and disintegration inherent in the subject matter. At the same time (and paradoxically), the technique gives me a sense of physically building up the subject, as if the collage and painting process is a means of reconstructing or resurrecting the dismantled vehicles.
My recent drawings are made with conte crayon on plastic drafting film. Working with wet and dry techniques, this material allows me to combine my love of subtle tonal transitions with an improvisational approach to mark-making. The slippery surface of the drafting film is conducive to revision and change, and my process involves a back and forth between build-up and erosion of the image.