I covet the intuitive nature of one who has just learned to write—the way words topple in and over a page’s lines. I can envision each wobbly turn of the pencil as it clunks out letters, tilting to their decline. My current abstractions involve the intertwining of painting, drawing, and my own “handwriting”: techniques that can harbor a gestural sense of humanity. Through a combination of acrylic and oil paints, pastel, and oil stick, I produce traces of physical and mental movements. An indexical performance of identity occurs as I sprawl these materials onto canvas and remove taped forms from beneath them. This act of repeating marks and selectively covering or extracting them with paint serves as an allusion to the way that individuals construct, tweak, and mask identities in our contemporary world. How many layers of images does it take to build oneself? How many reoccurring gestures are required to feel known?
Alongside these questions of gesture-based identity, the works confront systems of control that are equally at play in shaping individuals. Cultural, spiritual, mental, and political frameworks impress upon definitions of self, much like tubed lines frame my canvases, rigid bars jut in front of strokes, or layers hide unraveling curves. These plastic methods toy with my human marks, either disrupting or coexisting with them. Ultimately, my paintings unearth a relentless attempt to establish and free the self amidst the influences that weight it: tensions beneath our expressions, structures behind our play, and bars through which we push.
-TOT, February 2017