In my work I am concerned with finding empathy and complexity in situations that are often polarized and oversimplified. As an artist whose perspective has been informed by my family’s military heritage, I look to add a more nuanced approach to necessarily critical but discordant conversations. Through painting, video and participatory works I address these dynamics within a larger, multi-faceted cultural context: one of complicated family webs and communities, structural pedagogy, systematized aesthetics and the tenuous space between control and protection.
Recently, I rediscovered letters my father wrote me while serving in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Over 25 years later the letters import an even deeper significance personally, historically and politically. In rereading the letters, I was reminded of the family bonds that held us together despite the emotional, political and geographical distance between us. Through the series, Correspondence, I attempt to embody my Father’s perspective through methodically recreating the letters in watercolor. In the process of transcribing the documents into painted objects, I find empathy for my father where I once was an angry and confused teenager. As I painted, his words brought on new meanings and associations as he dispatched fatherly advice, beliefs, doubts and experiences of a war that continues to impact our lives.