I have no daily work agenda – I approach every workday with an anything can happen mentality. Usually I have had a rough idea of a stance or an attitude that I want my work to have, or a position that I want my work to take. In recent years, I would get five or six canvases stretched and primed by helpers. Not having to do that myself seemed like a good idea – things would go faster that way, and I sometimes struggle to keep up production.
Even before New York City shut down, a young artist who helped me at my studio left New York, and I asked the others to stay home for safety. I began doing the prep myself, just one at a time, because prep is boring, and I was feeling real pressure to make something beautiful in the face of the criminally unnecessary deaths and degradation of many.
As support for Black Lives Matter was growing and becoming increasingly diverse, peaceful demonstrations were met with hostility and overt violence. As police killings of Black People continued unchecked, I became further alienated from American culture and its legal system.
I began working at home more, going back into small unfinished paintings and drawings from various periods of my life that I had abandoned. My sense that life was not infinite, and that what I had not finished might never get finished unless I finished them right away, took over. The works I made in the spring of 2020 had behind them the sense of urgency that I felt. Because they had been begun at different periods, I saw them as bridges between past and present, between life and death, between life and the possibility of an afterlife, and perhaps between the past and a radically uncertain future.
I still have a notion of what I want my work to be, how I want it to present itself. But I’m working one at a time, perhaps as a result of doing the prep myself and being in a new studio. It’s a funny notion: I want to make a painting that one would not notice as a painting. One could walk by it as one does a wall or an unremarkable tree or fence. But, of course, there would be a remainder.
When things go well in the studio, I like a lot of noise and sound around me – an accompanying aural static.
October 2020 New York