1. Tell us about your upbringing in Kansas, has such an upbringing influenced your work in any way ?
I grew up in a rural area so there was a lot of isolation. We had three TV channels including PBS.
" I mostly grew up entertaining myself; being outside a lot, drawing pictures, building shrines for dead animals out of bricks from a dilapidated barn, etc. "
I think that nurtured my artistic self. I watched PBS mostly, that included British comedy shows and Bob Ross, that's all that is needed to foster creativity.
2. When would you say you first begun creating these mind blowing and beautifully grotesque assemblages ?
I made my first one circa 1995. My first trip to Europe and seeing old beautiful European architecture and art museums resulted in profound experiences and influenced my work. It seems as though what was readily available to me were model kits, wedding cake decorations, anything of cheap faux decorative attributes. So from there I started making these quasi-psychedelic, baroque-infused assemblages. Though at the time, I did not take them seriously because I was a painting major in college. But nearly a decade later, I began producing them again and galleries became interested, they sold immediately, and once that happened I saw my path. Never turning back.
3. You say you feel like you belong more to the “Old World”. What do you mean by this? What is it about modern society that makes you not want to be considered a part of it ?
" The fast paced, instant gratification environment of the modern world is not at all me. "
I feel it can be toxic to artists and artists, being sensitive types, need many hours of creative solitude. Much like the old world, the lifestyle was fitted and advantageous to the artists. However aesthetically, my soul just resonates more with the design, essence and symmetry of old world, European art.
4. Apart from the Baroque and Rococo period, what else has inspired your rich creations throughout the years ?
The exposed modern world, functionality of oil refineries, industrial plans, the non-aesthetic and cold approach to industrial design is inspiring in that I enjoy the rigidity & lack of flow of it, combining that with baroque and rococo design I have come up. This composition also compliments figural elements of the present and a little bit of star wars spaceship design really get me excited.
Image : Church Studio
5. Do you have a personal favorite mixed media piece that you consider a masterpiece of your work? Why is it so special ?
There is a piece I did in 2012 called “Exoneration." Apart from the beauty of the piece, the central character is a man standing without skin and he holds these poles with this fabric like material hanging off of it. The fabric is supposed to symbolize his shed skin. So it is a piece about shedding emotional layers to reach the openness and vulnerability.
6. Do talk to us through your usual creative process. What materials do you use? Where do they come from? How do you begin a piece? Do you have any special technical approach ?
Like I mentioned earlier my first piece, I sourced from model kits, wedding cake decoration but also any sort of kitsch decorative property, jewelry, decorative beads, anything that has an intrinsic value to contribute towards the assemblages. Many of these materials come from all over the world and so there is a timeline to order and ship these materials. But to begin a piece, I start working to build the core structure or back splash if you will, a shelf or horizon which these objects will fasten to. From there I compose from the largest objects to the smallest to the point of attaching tiny grains of sand, followed by painting the works and adding weathering effects. The process can take weeks or months depending on size or complexity and of course whatever budget I allow myself.
7. What has been the most interesting response you received from a viewer ?
" Probably the funniest response was "your works are so crazy, it’s like google earth!" "
I think I will never know what the best response is because typically people are so filtered when they express appreciation from my work. I think the best way to get a response for my work is to hide a tiny microphone in my work and listen to what people say about it.
8. What is your opinion of the Art World today? Do you wish there was something that you could change ?
" I won’t share my opinions too much; I find it fascinating in the beginning of one' career when you feel very concerned with impressing a large number of people and as your career moves forward you are more concerned with impressing a small number of people - collectors, museums galleries, etc. "
The start and the finish line definitely zigzagged and was turbulent, full of surprises and never really had absolutes. I am still somewhere along the gauntlet, but also enjoying myself. No expectations! Even when collectors request that tiny squirrels be added to a piece, I pass that task onto my assistants.