The Praesentia Series artworks feature historical brick and stone structures where walls, doorways, and windows create a metaphor for the human experience: turning points in life when looking within can help in finding the strength to face a difficult challenge.
These paintings arose from my cancer diagnosis in 2009. With treatment and recovery often described as a “fight for one's life” I became sensitized to the fact that society's ills often are expressed similarly – i.e. "The War on Hunger" and "The Battle Against AIDS." I was drawn to photos I had taken of the Great Wall of China and coastal US forts, structures built for protection against invading forces. The bricks and stones have additional symbolic content for me, for I consider all our thoughts, feelings, and experiences to comprise the whole of who we are as individuals, just as all the bricks together create a structure.
My paintings are not about illness, however. Nor are they intended to support the war paradigm of fighting against a threat: the concept of fighting my own body seemed an unlikely recipe for health. Instead, these artworks reflect the totality of human experience, for all of us have storms in our lives. The human condition requires confronting the dualities of our physical and emotional journeys, such as hope/despair and clarity/confusion. My paintings mirror the struggles of the inner and outer selves as well as the challenges within society-at-large where these opposites vie for dominance. It is my choice of subject matter, use of color, and the contrast between light and shadow that visually depict these tensions.
I sometimes change perspective from one object to another in the same piece to indicate that the painting reflects a shift in thought or viewpoint. I occasionally “mix up” light sources as well; for instance, showing a sunlit object in a location where no sun could be shining. By doing so I encourage the viewer to look deeper, beyond the realism of the scenes, and to contemplate the metaphorical content.
Praesentia means "presence" in Latin and, to me, represents how I got through the cancer experience: by being aware of the present moment, shifting my attention away from regrets about the past and worries about the future, and resisting the urge to judge my experience as "good" or "bad."