My work investigates the intersection between contemporary life and the not-too-distant past. To give agency to forgotten people, places, and cultural schisms, I incorporate discarded items like old photos found at flea markets, thrifted clothing, and found objects from my life into the medium of painting. My paintings act as caretakers to these mementos, imbuing the work with a sense of bittersweet nostalgia through a combination of oil and acrylic paint, sewn fabric, and collage fastened to canvas. In an endless loop, history continuously repeats itself, and as such these relics become windows into a different time that mirrors the present. They attempt to teach the viewer about neglected cultural elements through visual and tactile means while pushing painting from two into three-dimensional space with sculptural, craft, and technological elements. In reusing found elements, I breech ecocriticism and throw-away culture, guaranteeing that each reclaimed memento is once again active. By finding a place for things that in other instances end up in a landfill, decomposing, their agency becomes a teaching and storytelling device for the viewer.
In recent years I have embraced my Appalachian heritage and made it my mission to show the world what the region has contributed to American society through history and culture to combat negative stereotypes. Encompassing thirteen states and most of the east coast of the United States, Appalachia spans from New York to Alabama and westward into Ohio, shaped regionally by both the North and the South. Despite its poverty, religious misconceptions, perceived political leanings, and propensity to be taken advantage of for its natural resources, Appalachia is filled with a distinctive history, culture, geography and beauty that is often disregarded due to ignorance. I constantly strive to represent the unspoken through the reuse of the discarded, whether it be in a historical or contemporary sense to give agency to Appalachia, from miners, to snake charmers, to folk craftsmen, musicians, and shamans; all have a place as cornerstones of the culture. Appalachians have a complicated relationship to poverty, race, and exploitation, and it is often a microcosm of larger issues affecting the country, and can no longer be ignored in our current times. My paintings confront the viewer with this overlooked dialogue, where the forgotten are remembered as heroes of their stories. Through the traditions of folk art and craft combined with traditional portraiture and figuration pulled from vintage photos of forgotten people, culture, and events, I hope to reconstruct the importance of the people and storytelling that permeates the culture and history of Appalachia.