Since I was young, I was in love with the idea of making visual art. My sister is a phenomenal visual and performance artist, and my entire family is artistic. I remember a moment when I was very little when I was hanging around with my uncle, a graphic designer, and he sketched a near-perfect portrait of me. From what I can remember, it was a close-up of my head and shoulders with angel wings in the background. I adored my uncle, and it was he who introduced me to drawing, design, and photography. I take photographs with the Nikons that he gave me.
When I got older, I played with watercolors, but I really began taking painting “seriously” less than a year ago, when I saw a Dale Chihuly exhibit at the MFA. I had been in awe of his sculptures for as long as I knew what they were, but one of the more striking things about this experience was the opportunity to see his sketches and paintings in the museum gift shop afterward. It was his color, energy, movement, and inexplicable ability to translate abstraction into material that captivated me. I left with Chihuly Drawing, a book that I could barely fit into my carry-on bag on my way home, but was well worth the rearranging.
I returned home from Boston and started painting, and it’s no surprise that my expressions were directly influenced by Chihuly’s style. In a sense, I feel that his paintings gave me permission to paint a certain way: to use color and abstraction and to re-interpret the way we see things, the way we translate them into objects – and the way we translate objects into their depictions. Making abstract art is like learning to use a pictographic language whose words don’t have standardized meanings. If you see someone using that language and that person inspires you enough, it doesn’t matter that you don’t know all the words. You invent your own.
Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness is one of my favorite books. In it, the author writes:
we should allow abstract sculptures to demonstrate to us the range of thoughts and emotions that every kind of non-representational object can convey. The gift of the most talented sculptors has been to teach us that large ideas, for example, about intelligence or kindness, youth or serenity, can be communicated in chunks of wood and string, or in plaster and metal contraptions, as well as they can in words or human likenesses. The great abstract sculptures have succeeded in speaking to us, in their peculiar dissociated language, of the important themes of our lives.