At every new place I encounter I wonder, how did it come to be like this, what events or processes made it so? With research I try to find answers, then in a manner akin to reverse engineering I set about to achieve a semblance of understanding. My process is to take apart a landscape and re-assemble it, creating objects and images that explain it, or tell its story. These stories are sometimes chronicles of inquiry, other times accounts of a personal experience I had there. My stories can also be about the depiction of a place, by legend or account.
In the late 70’s I worked as a firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management in Northeastern Utah. Often, I would be transported to fire sites via helicopter and I was able to view the landscape from the air. This experience transformed my way of seeing. From the air the land revealed its larger form; contours unseen from the ground emerged, and trees and rock became patterns of color and shadow.
I became acquainted with topographic maps when I was working in the architectural field and analogous to that, making architectural contour models. Architecture taught me to think about form pictorially (in elevation) but also in section. Making architectural drawings, I learned how to use symbolic allusions to convey concrete technical operations and desired outcomes. To simultaneously convey in an image, how something appears, or should appear, but also how it is (or is to be) constructed.
In my recent work, I attempt to connect ephemeral experiences of nature, with process and technical operation. I make image/object hybrids that evoke and marry sentient experience with personal industry. The word “vision” has multiple meanings: the organic ability to see, to think about or plan the future, and the experience of seeing as if in a dream or trance; one word, multiple processes, biologic, systematic and creative. For me, there is cognitive and sensual pleasure in making things connect, things that arise from theoretical, experiential and mechanical activities.
In practice a work starts as ephemera, perhaps as a memory. Attached to it are ideas garnered over time that inform it anew. I prepare a ground, the color of soil and scrub plants-bleached light by the sun, on it I superimpose a penciled grid. As quickly as I can, I try to translate the memory into a drawn image. I color it with oil, being careful to leave exposed some of the ground. Then by hand, I cut the image apart and re-order it, bringing some parts to the fore while pushing others back. I frame the work, giving it the appearance of a stage set, while also bounding and preserving its ephemeral impetus.