In this body of work, I explore the journey of my hearing loss. Through a combination of oil paint and mixed media, my process has led me to explore qualities of paint and used objects: their tactile natures and how they interact with one another. The result is a series of works that incorporates abstraction, realism and assemblage to convey aspects of hearing loss related to my life story.
Each piece contains elements of three-dimensionality, painting, and texture. I have chosen to use this approach not only out of aesthetic necessity, but because my deafness has heightened my other senses, especially touch.
Using three-dimensional objects allows me to create a tactile sense best conveyed through assemblage, which encourages an intimate connection between the artist, the viewer, and the impermanence and changeability of the objects. This quality of impermanence reflects our powerlessness and frailty.
In painting each piece, I have combined abstraction and trompe l’oeil. I use abstraction to explore what paint can do: what it can express if I let its qualities guide me in the process. I use trompe l’oeil to create the illusion of three dimensional objects on the surface.
There are many artists who have influenced this series. In building three-dimensional and textural surfaces, I draw from the assemblages of Robert Rauschenberg and sculptures of Louise Nevelson. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the trompe l’oeil and realistic tendencies in my work come from a deeply rooted fascination with the works of Gustave Courbet and Brad Stroman. For the grounds and abstractly painted areas, I have studied the works of Leah Michele Keck.
My process involves creating a grid-like guideline upon which to draw the main subject of each piece. As I begin to develop the three-dimensional arrangement and the painted areas, there is a constant shift between the different approaches. Much of my time in the studio has been in profound silence as I seek to let the piece guide me through its shifts and developments.
As a painter, the visual element of the world is extremely important to me. The importance of visuality–like touch–is enhanced by my deafness. The textural areas are not quite three-dimensional, but not entirely two-dimensional either, thus tying the two extremes together and adding to the multi-dimensionality of each piece, echoing the many facets of life.
Throughout my life, God’s grace and love for me have been incredibly significant factors. While others may wonder how I deal with deafness, I know that God has given me my deafness for a reason. I choose to embrace my disability as a gift and use it to bring Him glory. God has also given me the ability to paint; to see and create beauty. My faith inevitably works its way into my paintings, and serves as another cohesive thread among my work.
While the series is a narrative reflection of my journey, my ultimate goal is to produce an honest, raw representation of my life that invites the viewer to make his or her own connections to my story.