Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am a photo based artist who works with sculpture and ceramics. My work values the image over the object and my commercial practice of shooting product and documenting art shows is increasingly collapsing into my art practice. I try not to own too many things, instead maintaining large databases of found images and my own photographs.
How has living in St Catharines, Ontario affected your art practice? I live in St Catharines, Ontario which is one hour from Toronto and about 20 minutes away from Niagara Falls and the American border. The population here is 131,400 (2011) and I guess it isn’t that different from other cities this size. The best thing about being in a smaller place is the space you have, both physical and mental. I have a studio with big windows above a vegan restaurant which is a five minute walk from the house I rent which has a backyard. Sometimes I don’t engage with people other than my wife and son for days, but that can be both a good and a bad thing. Because it is smaller people, are somewhat less wary of artists here, which means reaching out to groups like Niagara Bonsai Club, Niagara Weaver’s Guild or reptile breeders is met with less skepticism.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I have a show called Recent Advancements Rodman Hall/Brock University in St Catharines (photos included) which expands on my interest of the gallery being an active space for continuing to produce work even after everything has been installed. A show at Clint Roenisch in Toronto will open while Recent Advancements is still up. They will be in dialogue with each other with photos taken in the gallery as studio space of Rodman Hall appearing at Clint Roenisch.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I would say something like, I take photographs that look like photographs you see all the time, but they are sort of strange, like you don’t know how they are supposed to function. Based on their reaction to this I may proceed, I place value in the image of a thing, not the thing itself. Sometimes I show sculptures, but they are meant to be photographed more than looked at. This could continue into, I am interested in the immaterial consumption of images we all engage in daily and how this affects us. When photographing, my goal is to liberate the objects from their original use (which is often a mystery to me) and imagine new absurd forms which are purposefully made, but lack purpose. All of this would also depend on the context of meeting this stranger; for example, I may include a baseball or weather metaphor to help make my point.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Someone once said of a book of mine: I liked your zine; I didn’t throw it out. That’s probably the most memorable and sums up alot of my experiences.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I want my work to be accessible to everyone at some level. This may be a purely formal or technical reaction. I shoot my photographs very straight; they would not be any different if I hired a photographer. From a technical point of view, the common criticism of art (I could do that/my kid could do that) is invalidated. It is in the selection and arrangement of objects that my work stands apart. Beyond that I hope viewers find some depth, are left curious or use the word weird. Avoiding anything too literal or didactic is important and hopefully this leads to people lingering longer, thinking more and taking lots of photos of it.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Two industrial processes which continue in my work are powder coating metal and slip casting ceramics. My photos are made up of things I buy to photograph and then return or exchange for other things to photograph. I spend lots of time driving from one end of town to the other.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites?
stcatharines.kijiji.ca (Canadian version of ebay local)
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Coffee & Protein Bar.
What are you currently watching on Netflix? Jack Reacher and Holy Motors; both happy to watch again.