At the end of spring 2020 when there was a swelling of anger and sadness amidst protests in the US, I wondered what – as an artist – I should be doing in response to what was happening around me. In times of turmoil, I have often questioned the validity of my work, and with practice I’ve learned that it is in those challenging times that the work of an artist becomes especially important, both for the artist and for the audience. However as a white artist, I was unsure of what was appropriate for the direction of my work. It seemed disingenuous to make politically charged paintings when my current body of work dealt with an entirely different subject matter. How could I make work that was culturally relevant yet stayed true to the artistic concerns I’ve pursued for years?
The morning of June 1st I made drawings of a table and chairs in our screened-in porch, a nod to some Richard Diebenkorn paintings of a single chair in an interior. Later that day in the studio, I decided to make a painting using one of those drawings as a reference. This painting was quiet and contemplative. I made another painting and another, all evocative of human presence, and each one a play of color and geometry and composition. In these paintings, through the careful arrangement of shapes and color, I envision creating space for conversations – hopefully the kind of exchanges that bring real profound understanding. Is this too much to want for my work? Maybe, but making art is in itself a hopeful act, and so it helps me feel optimistic.