Medium: Encaustic on panel
Dimensions: 31 1/2 × 31 9/16 × 2 9/16 in. (80 × 80.2 × 6.5 cm)
Credit Line: This is an Iowa Art in State Buildings Project for the Chemistry Department at Hach Hall. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State University, Hach Chemistry Building
Artist’s statement: I want my paintings to look like they were made without thinking. As effortlessly composed as leaves floating on a pond, a curl of smoke, or layers of geologic sediment. It’s a paradox, of course, because each mark is a decision whether I think I’m thinking about it or not. So I try to set up situations where the materials can respond randomly to my inadvertent attempts at control. Working with fire and beeswax, I have to act fast while the medium is still hot. What thinking there is has to be done in an instant.
For as little conscious thought that presumably goes into my acts of painting, each finished piece becomes a Rorschach test full of metaphors about the struggle for survival, social relationships, the evolution of oneself during life’s journey, the passage of time, and the tension between opposing forces. As a seeing human, I can’t help it. I have to try to find meaning in everything even when I don’t intend to include it.
I watch how other artists grapple with deliberately losing control over their medium. Gerhard Richter says of his squeegee paintings that “chance is part of the process.” Anish Kapoor said in an interview about his show at the Tate Gallery, “The process reveals all that needs to be revealed. In a way I feel that I’m not trying to say something, but to let it occur.” Of course, a tremendous amount of premeditation goes into arranging the uncontrolled situation. Another paradox.