Historically, portraits, whether drawn, painted or sculpted, have been reserved for those deemed important enough to be honored with a work of art bearing their likeness. In the United States of America, the president and those surrounding him, were (and are) common subjects. My practice of portrait making starting in 2016 after the election of the 45th president of the United States. Usually, these artworks offer a favorable depiction of subject matter. If one looks at the official presidential portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, the vast majority of these painting are austere and formal. For all but two, the artist is a man.
This current white house is a different story. It has been in turmoil since this administration took office. In less than two years in office, this white house has had six communications directors as compared to five for the whole eight years of the Obama administration. The white house has been plagued with leaks, back-stabbing, contradictions, lies, and unrest. It has experienced a high number of turnovers, not just in communication. My portraits are reflective of this revolving door both in subject matter (Sally Yate, Michael Flynn, Katie Walsh to name a few) and the reuse of found and recycled objects and those items usually sent to the circular file.
My portraits are fractured, torn asunder, reflecting the chaos in this president’s white house.
In this same vein, when my portraits are viewed from afar, the viewer sees the likeness of the subject matter. They may even delight in being able to recognize the face or have warm feelings for someone they care about. The viewer may ask if these are paintings, photographs, or carefully constructed drawings made with a genuine love and caring for the person depicted. Upon further inspection, it is revealed that these artworks are made of garbage – torn and cut debris found on the streets or generated through daily living. One of the most common forms of trash is plastic. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us and in wild fish. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments. This work investigates our relationship to political figures and the environment and our visions: Is what we think we’re doing helpful or hurtful? Is what we see real or something else? Is this a treasure or merely trash?