Trace is an abstract painting series I developed between 2016 and 2018. It is about how we navigate layers of time in the present moment, and how this shapes us. Trace is about what we leave behind and also how we respond to what is already there.
I exhibited Trace in 2017 at Industry Lab as the summer Artist in Resident. It was then exhibited as a solo exhibition at the Piano Craft Gallery in March of 2018.
The genesis of trace arose out of a sense of scarcity and urgency. In the beginning I was creating large backdrops for my band's shows.. I was low on time and resources and, I was motivated to use up as much space as possible with the least amount of time and paint. My solution was to dilute paint almost to water texture and drop it from a tall distance, harnessing gravity and fluidity to create large natural splatters.
I quickly became attached to the process. The awkward blobs grew their own character, I was endeared to them. They were a brave statement which wrote itself out of my hands, when I left the room to let evaporation run its course. Nothing splatters gracefully, but I found grace and beauty in these honest shapes, in the way the pigments mixed on their own without my interference. They were the result of my intention to give up control. They reminded me of mistakes.
When I began working on canvas I felt the need to add another element to my splatter shapes. I began to trace their ragged edges with vibrant colors, forming bands of color which raised the initial splatters to the forefront.
Contrastingly, this process is very time intensive and requires strict attention to detail., as I paint my way deliberately around the tiny droplets. I became attached to this process as well, and found another kind of freedom in my commitment to generously give my time and attention to these shapes and colors, as a counterbalance to the reckless free moments which are the beginnings of all my Trace paintings.
Drop, splatter, trace, repeat. These repetitive motions grew a larger perspective in me. As I traced the details, the tiny spaces became whole worlds that I discovered through my paintbrush. I felt my eyes drawn to regular real-world splatters outside my paintings, on sidewalks, on street signs, on the floor in the supermarket. They were the vestiges of real events which had happened, real moments which had been captured and preserved and forgotten.
I began to work replicate this process on old vinyl sleeves that I inherited from my friend's grandfather as an extension of this concept. These records were cultural artifacts that had been forgotten and deemed worthless. They contained traces of stories that became the inspiration for each new painting, and their meaning changed and was changed by the subsequent layers of color with which they shared space.
To me the process of creating Trace paintings is like replicating history. Drop, splatter, trace repeat. Since the beginning of humanity people have been living in spaces, dying in them, becoming replaced by other humans who live, die, leave their marks for us to walk and breathe around. Trace is about how we navigate these layers of time in the present moment, and how this shapes us. Trace is what we leave behind and how we respond to what is already there.