My connection to a narrative started when I was a child in rural Illinois among an extended family of farmers and laborers with very determined traditions and expectations. The family folklore was told and retold with enough exaggeration to keep your interest. Growing up with these stories gave me a context for all the wonderful pecularities of this farming community. There were Sunday outings when my family would drive to a derailed train site, a river-flooded valley, or a tornado-destroyed farm, and have our photograph taken to mark the occasion. These photos show up in the family albums along with the pictures of birthday parties, picnics, and baptisms.
My art is most definitely influenced by my family’s stories in both subtle and obvious ways. There have been times when I only discovered that connection myself years after finishing a piece. I rarely begin a piece with a specific narrative laid out ahead of time. Instead, the work begins with what I’ll call “clues”. This could be a figure’s pose, something someone said, a pattern, an environment, or an object. The narrative then builds on those “clues” which is, at this point in my life, very intuitive. I don’t question it. As I figure out the design of the piece, that is usually the point in which the story takes shape. Once I begin painting/building/drawing, the work can flow quite easily or fight back with many twists and turns. I can’t think of a time when I gave up on a piece because it felt so lost. That lost stage is part of the process, and I know when I get there, keep moving.