I have been making paintings for nearly three decades, and—from the beginning—my work has focused on architecture and the built landscape. I am interested in the way that architecture can serve as a lens for understanding our society and the cultural, economic, and political shifts that have shaped it over time. Past series have explored suburban subdivisions, new construction sites, and abandoned homes and factories. What we build tells us a lot about who we are—as a people, as Americans—and about what (and who) we value and prioritize, versus what (and who) we cast aside.

Nowhere is our architecture more revealing than in our institutional buildings—often massive structures, designed to communicate our collective ideals and mythologies. In 2014 I began painting art world institutions—the white-walled, minimalist spaces of museums and galleries. With these paintings, I examine the nature and structure of exhibition space and the role it plays in framing and orienting our experience of art. The rooms and corridors depicted in these works are simultaneously austere and opulent; makeshift and highly controlled; impersonal and sacred.

Through my engagement with the museum paintings, I began to wonder about other forms of institutional space. In particular, I became curious to know more about prison architecture, because prisons are institutions that are generally kept hidden away from mainstream society. We are not meant to see inside our correctional facilities, despite the fact that we incarcerate more people per capita than any other country in the world. Indeed, America’s prisons are inextricably, painfully bound up in our national identity, at odds with our claim to be the “Land of the Free.” 

In 2021, I was extremely fortunate to receive a generous grant, The Marion International Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts, to support my prison architecture project. Around that same time, I expanded my artistic practice to include teaching with the University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI), a transformative organization which offers theater, dance, creative writing, and visual arts programming inside state-run facilities throughout Colorado. My work with DU PAI has been humbling and life-changing, and I have had the honor of collaborating with a number of gifted artists on the inside who have generously shared their experiences and perspectives with me, influencing my ongoing work in this area.

Whether depicting exhibition space or carceral space, all my paintings hover in a zone between stark realism and abstraction. My compositions emphasize geometry, pattern, and surface. Playing with the materiality of paint, I work with both oils and acrylics and juxtapose various painting “styles” on each canvas, deliberately undermining the illusion of depth and the overall unity of the completed image. My work often appears photo-realistic when seen in reproduction, but, seen in person, the painted surface asserts itself forcefully, enabling the viewer to discover the process by which the image was constructed. In this way, I mean to call into question the perceived coherence and continuity of the architecture depicted.

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