Much of my work is inspired by my experiences teaching English as a Second Language. As an ESL teacher, I was privy to a host of challenging and highly personal stories of immigration. The experience altered my world view, and created a desire to use my art as a means to convey the complex yet fragile stories of others.
Consider conversation as a medium, analogous to paint for the painter, or clay for the sculptor; the act of dialogue becomes an aesthetic act of collaborative creation. I use the language of art as a means of initiating communication; my subject becomes my partner in conversation. As we build verbal connections, our capacity for understanding ourselves and others expands in tandem with the flow of conversation.
I use portraiture as a vehicle for storytelling, merging real people with imagery and text laden with historical and personal value. This use of pattern and iconography creates a sense of spatial ambiguity, encouraging viewers to decode the images according to their own associations and experiences. I create visual narratives of friends who are actively challenging societal norms and creating the change they wish to see in the world. Over the past few years, I have felt helpless as I watch a narrative of hate, racism and fear of the “other” unfold in our country. By investigating these territories through portraiture and the sharing of stories, I create opportunities to build relationships, and to increase our capacity to recognize and celebrate our shared humanity.