Artist Narrative

My chief formats are painting, assemblage, and works on paper. In each, I am drawn above all to the availability of the medium to an intensified material process, and in assemblage and collage especially, I typically integrate a wide range of found objects and art materials, which together can create an unusually dynamic physical presence. My paintings are built from many layers of paint, applied in a variety of ways, which produce dense, textured surfaces that have an effect of strong inner illumination. Similarly, when I work on paper, I prefer a scale that permits the use of large brushes, strong color, and an array of mark-making tools — oil wash, pastel, raw pigment, oil sticks, pencils, dip pens, charcoal, gouache, liquid ink, big bamboo pens — as well as collage. Although paper is more direct than painting and has its own quality of presentation, it accommodates marks and gestures that I associate with painting, and the works on paper readily reveal their connection to my paintings. Both rely on serial imagery, and if several canvases are hung with a group of paper pieces from the same period, their connective tissues will be apparent.

            But several other concerns are incorporated into my day-to-day work in the studio, and with this in mind, I can offer some additional explanations.

            I am a second-generation Italian American, and over the years I have learned that I cannot fully separate or quantify that which is Italian from any other aspect of my life. Some traits may be more evident than others, true, but where does one end and another begin? This is a condition of life. I grew up in an Italian immigrant community, and can identify aspects of that upbringing that appear in my work — an idiomatic sense of color, a love of handcraft, a deep feeling for materials, a sense of tradition and time, an appreciation for the religious culture and its symbols, a pleasure in landscape, especially 

gardens, and all the social experiences of a mixed identity. It is for these reasons that my handling of materials and mark-making, as well as the addition of worn, fragmentary objects of an ordinary life as collage or assemblage elements, so often have the palpable atmosphere of an encounter with a specific place or a decisive feeling about the past.

            Second, I had a career in ballet and jazz dance, beginning at a very young age, and although I have not performed in many years, the values of dance continue to affect my work. I have brought the muscle memory of dance to visual art, now manifested as rhythm, pattern, and implied motion within the spatial setting of the artwork — particularly in painting and collage. As painting values, they lead to the liveliness and animation that I seek in the work, and by extension, to a connection with the complex human origins and processes of making. Marking, layering, texture, collage materials, and a sense of how forms and colors can produce movement — all have at least some basis in dance

            As an artist, I must always satisfy the conditions of art if the work is to be successful, and in my orientation to process and vigorous engagement with my materials and imagery — to a concentrated, moment to moment involvement with the construction of the work itself — I remain sensitive to the need for balance, structure, variety, texture, illumination, mood, and above all, an atmosphere of ambiguity, that the work never be just one thing or another. In the end, however, all are committed to exploring ways in which a sense of self or self-identity can be disclosed as imagery. This might be seen as a kind of reverse archeology, an embedding of the cultural and social issues and indeed the consciousness of dual cultural identity into the work for the purpose of being viewed, by myself and others.