Statement of Creative Research
At the center of my studio practice is an interest in the photographic image. I begin my visual projects by creating or appropriating digital photographs. Then I spend time in front of a computer screen meticulously eliminating, rearranging, or animating the tiny pixels that form these images. In this way, the photograph itself is not an end result but a foundation for further research, discovery, and invention. During my first five years at The Ohio State University Mansfield, I have used digitally manipulated photographs to explore notions such as desire, consumption, happiness, and loss.
I am currently engaged in a project titled Within the Happy Crowd through which I examine one facet of American consumer culture. The project involves photographs I create in crowded environments where people exchange fees to experience happiness, such as amusement parks or funfairs. I digitally remove environmental details from these images, transforming individuals once surrounded by desirable objects and experiences into lonely figures in an empty space. With historical influences such as Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, and Garry Winogrand, these images fall into the tradition of social landscape photography but are rendered in a new way through the tactic of digital erasure. In 2014, I extended the project to include manipulated video footage.
Supported by an Ohio State University Mansfield Campus Seed Grant, I have expanded my investigation of consumerism with projects such as You Deserve More, a multimedia installation that involves high-definition screens, animated photographs, and slogans appropriated from well-known advertisements. By employing advertising strategies and agencies in the installation, I draw attention to the manner in which images and messages are used to create desire in the contemporary consumer. I have continued to explore advertising with works such as Ohio Skyscape, an immersive projection in which I reference the outmoded ads I often encounter in the economically depressed city of Mansfield, Ohio.
Throughout my time on the Mansfield campus, I have also used digital tools to examine physical photographs from the past, particularly those that relate to disaster or destruction. In Construction/Destruction, I animate digital scans of glass plate negatives created by Orville and Wilbur Wright that were damaged during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. In the series The Insignificant, I call attention to photographs that were physically marked as rejected for publication by the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. In a recent animation entitled White Sky, I manipulate a filmed interview with a crew member of the Enola Gay taken shortly after the plane dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, digitally disconnecting him from the event. In each of these works, images that deal with physical damage become sites whereby I explore my ability as a digital artist to precisely extract, duplicate, or conceal.
I have exhibited my creative work nationally, including in recent solo exhibitions at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas; Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia; and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. My work has also been featured in group exhibitions at venues such as the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Louisiana; Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Zhou B Art Center Gallery in Chicago, Illinois; and the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, Illinois. I have received several recognitions and grants for my research, including the 2013 Ohio State University Mansfield Award for Excellence in Scholarship, an award that recognizes a faculty member’s significant research accomplishments.
My research plans include pursuing additional opportunities to exhibit and fund my creative projects while continuing to explore new ways to create, manipulate, and share photographs in the digital age. I was recently invited to participate in the 2015-2016 exhibition season at the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This exhibition will be an exciting opportunity to share several of the projects I have completed during my first six years at The Ohio State University Mansfield.