It all begins with the suburban frustration. We humans have a predetermined aesthetic preference for nature. It is an evolutionary remnant. It helped preserve our species. As a resident of the heart of the Los Angeles suburbs, the context in which I experience nature seems to amplify its allure. The mundane frameworks within which nature exists here seems to concentrate its beauty; I can’t take my eyes off of it.
I’m using the term “nature” loosely here. The trees, the shrubs and grasses, were all planted here by someone in an attempt to simulate the ideal Savannah. We know that, but their presence still stirs our ingrained unshakable appreciation of the aesthetic. They have become our “Substitute Nature”.
This formal, conceptual, emotional relationship between us urbanites and nature is fraught with contradictions. These contradictions are the source for my work. The visual contrast, obviously, but also conceptual entanglements: It is in our nature to find plants beautiful but our evolution is literally squeezing them out of our environment and won’t this evolution eventually make them obsolete? Will nature's tenaciousness prevail? The emotional relationships between trees and their caretakers is apparent by the suburban trees‘ appearance: Are they left to grow free and wild? Are they neglected or worshiped? Are they topiaried to conform to our misguided notions of beauty? Which plants will thrive around us as the environment struggles? Will the plants that we now consider weeds become our new cultivars?
I use my own little plot of suburbia as the source of my subjects. I’ve gone from tree to plant to weed to soil looking for, looking at, trying to understand. I draw and paint these snippets laboriously in an effort to understand them. The closer I look, the more I see. The smaller the detail, the more universal is the observation.