The Dao is in the piss and shit, wrote the Daoist thinker Zhuangzi, looking to disrupt our comfortable notions of good and bad. He, and thinkers like him, wrote stories full of absurdity and contradiction, sabotaging ideologies to make space for a more open world view. Like Surrealists, but with ethics. Or Dadaists without the nihilism. Taking this as an inspiration, I use painting and installation as mediums to explore ideas of ambiguity, absurdity and unstable meanings, as a way to resist my compulsion to create false certainty in a unpredictable world.
The ink paintings and studies explore the shifting value of mundane objects. They are imprints of household materials like fruit rinds, paper towels, and kitchen scraps, which I have used as implements to apply pigment and handmade ink. The title of each work is my translation of Classical Chinese poetry.
The momentary sculptures investigate the ambiguity of use and uselessness. They are ephemeral constellations of objects from my home and studio: used clothing, apparel from former careers, and paintings that I made and abandoned. These sculptures exist for minutes or days, until their parts are rearranged or returned to practical use based on circumstance or whim.
The installations. The installation called $148,475.59 questions the worth of education by presenting the paper documentation of my student debt, including the promissory note, bank correspondence, and debt management materials. The title is the amount that I have to repay.
The installation called The Pop-Up Reading Room examines the ambiguous relationship between leisure and the environment. A local arts group invited me to build a temporary park on a vacant West Oakland parking lot. At the outdoor space, called the Pop-Up Reading Room, visitors read books on benches made of ice and synthetic sheepskin as space heaters kept them warm – the melting ice serving as a metaphor for human impacts on environments we enjoy. The photographs record the development and decay of the Reading Room.
The installation called Deed of Gift questions the value of objects, especially art objects. I donated an object to an arts organization and drafted a legal agreement between me and the organization. The agreement forbids activities that typically give cultural value to art (like photography, publicity, and access). The piece inquires what value, if any, remains.
The oil studies investigate the value of mass-market items by presenting portraits of cuts of pork and chicken.