This painting is from my series "In Their Own Words". This is a series of large-scale oil-painted portraits, that are intended to evoke a perceived dialogue between subject and viewer.
After hand-selecting a diverse range of personally known subjects, I presented them with a questionnaire designed to engage them in an increasingly abstracted self-representation. Loosely based on popular psychology tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Test Indicator, the questionnaire begins with broad queries that are culturally proscribed to quantitatively define people, such as their occupation, age and gender. Proceeding with more intimate and seemingly frivolous questions, such as perceptions of happiness and preferred bathing habits, the questionnaire culminates with the subjects determining which color, shape and word best represents their perception of their authentic self. After filling out the questionnaire on their own, I then interview the subjects about their answers in order to gain a more intimate knowledge of their self-perception. I teach them the American Sign Language sign for the single word by which they have chosen to define themselves. I sketch and photograph the subjects nude from the waist up. The sketches and photographs capture different but key stages of their specific sign. To ensure timelessness and limit personal stylistic information, I paint each individual without accessories such as tattoos, most jewelry, eyeglasses or makeup.
Through this direct and interactive engagement, the subject plays a central role in defining the composition of the final painting and encourages an intimate exchange between artist and subject. In the formative stage of this process, as the artist, I am both audience and facilitator. I offer the subjects an opportunity to engage in creative conceptualization and self-reflection becoming, in effect, viewer and creator of their expressed self-representation. This self-representation is then filtered through my painting process. All the paintings follow a strict format: the lighting, camera positioning, canvas dimensions (48inches x 48 inches) and the figures placement within the composition are fixed. Therefore, the consistent figurative format varies only by subject-defined components. When viewed as a series, my intention is that the paintings will yield movement and repetition. Obviously, the movement is that of the word being sign. The repetition is conveyed by the strict format being implemented over and over again.
Finally, each subject, painted on a scale slightly larger than life, engages the viewers as active participants by having them "read" their dynamically moving hands. In this way, viewers witness the subtle movements of intentional body language and the intimate exposure of self, "In Their Own Words."
born: 1973, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Rhode Island School of Design, BFA 1995
New Britain Museum of American, permanent collection acquisition 2013
Parsons School of Design, collection acquisition 2011
selected solo or two-person exhibits
In Their Own Words, Old Bowery Station, Manhattan, New York, 2013
Hands To Toe, Delgado-Tomei Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, 2005
Hands, North 6th, Brooklyn, New York, 2003
Nathan Bond, Alvin Valley Design Studios, Manhattan, New York, 2002
selected group shows
Immigration in America, Target Gallery, Alexandria, Virginia, 2011
Values, A-forest Gallery, Manhattan, New York, 2011
Enrapturing Journey, Galeria Con, Barcelona, Spain 2010
Preparations: Artists' Sketchbooks and Journals, The University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, , Knoxville, Tennessee, 2010