My work embraces a wide range of subject matter that is narrative in character. The ideation tends to break down into four categories: Objects created from using my own social conscience/political viewpoint; historic subject matter relating to cultural iconography from the countries where I have lived while pursuing my career in education and studio metalsmithing; humorous renditions of cultural events both historic and pop-oriented; and the making of larger objects dealing with non-objective volumetric form.
I have endeavored to keep a jewelry or metalsmithing idiom as a root for the objects I build, but the jewelry scaled work (especially the social conscience/political-oriented objects) has evolved to owning only a vestige utilitarian function and the larger hollow formed objects have followed in the same vein retaining only a suggestion of having once been useable. Bracelets or rings designed never to be worn have instead become platforms to initiate any manner of narrative, and the vessels have noticeable spouts but with no way for them to be filled. With this said it is often amusing to remind myself that my initial training in metal followed a strict traditionalist voice with one ring to each finger, all bracelets and pins made in a suitable scale for body adornment and hollow formed vessels serving utilitarian goals all fashioned in the pursuit of achieving the highest degree of aesthetics. Instead I decided very early on to desert these traditional roots and I never looked back. I instead chose to create objects that challenge the viewers to resolve an ever-present dichotomy between the narrative and the vestige idioms within which the compositions rest to provoke a different, perhaps higher level of thinking. I encourage them to make the connection presented work within the context of the narrative and the juxtaposition of the concept to its implausible setting. Not only are they challenged to fathom the narrative’s hypothesis but also to accept the chosen environ within which the storyline has been placed. It became my hook. If one finger was the proper placement for a ring, then it would follow that two, three, or even four fingers could now be fair game in the mix and bracelets could then be utilized for “weightier” ideation where the narrative demanded broader territory for explanation.
BEATLE George Harrison once expounded that; “Mainly the object has been to get something out of my system as opposed to, ‘being a songwriter’”. This is a precept that I have strived to follow throughout my career especially with the edgier work, and to some extent the more humorous pieces. When events happen, I feel a need to confront the specifics of its absurdity and then record the event, in precious metal, within a suitable narrative to get it out of MY system. So for example, placing a surface-to-air missile onto a three-fingered ring for use by civilians in the Third World for survival, works for me on several levels. Larger scaled objects like the corkscrew, candlesticks, or the reliquary follow the same line of thinking. They are referenced from a plethora of visual information I ingested from a two-year stay in Italy where I was exposed to Tuscan and Etruscan cultural iconography. The pure brilliance of the metal work I researched there often negated my existence in its beauty and craft execution. To tether my audacity to make similar objects my methodology was to combine the historic context relegated to these objects and create “covers” with a more contemporary sensibility to inform their final composition. This recipe formed the basis for my ideation on those specific pieces and later, for a more serious object dealing with pedophilia administered by Catholic priests on innocent children.
With all this said, my studio work often takes a back seat to meeting the educational needs of my students which over my career has resulted in a less than desired productivity level in my studio. Because of this confluence of importance, each new idea for a piece is internalized for long gestation periods before they ever reach paper much less metal. The actual fabrication of the work tends to move at its own pace and depending on the number of transitions in the work a single fabrication component or a series of decorative cherubs or armadillos may take weeks to execute resulting in a body of work that is not extensive as one might imagine by most artists standards and, alas, never will be. This is not an excuse, but more of a way to explain that studio art is a complement to my life’s work as a teacher and not a means to an end.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add to this statement the importance of my day job as a College Professor, and the persistent effect it has had on my own work. Teaching has also always been the unwavering link in helping me to sharpen my own design process skills. I continually learn more about the design and idea development each time I help a student resolve an aesthetic or technical problem, somethings learning more about both more than I ever did through reading textbooks, traveling, or attending seminars. With a seemingly never-ending supply of “fresh” students coming into my life, the need for me to continually use my design skills has become sort-of a “daily on the job training” scenario for the past 40 years with never a dull moment, ever. Teaching young people how to generate ideas is how I keep my own ideation brain cells active and ready for the next reference collision to begin moving my next project idea forward and to fruition.
I hope this helps you somewhat in understanding what makes me tick. Most of all, thank you for your kind interest in my work.