Totems have existed since prehistory as a marker, a sentinel, or a physical representation for an abstract concept. It is an object of inspiration and spiritual significance.
I started making my totems after helping my neighbor take his back yard gate to the curb to be thrown out. It was so worn and gnarled by the lifetime of use, that I found it inspiring in its grotesque beauty and hung it on the wall of my studio as inspiration. This gate became a talisman that worked on me while I painted. By looking at it daily, it made me ponder what it was about it that I found so compelling. It spoke to so many of the preferences I already have in my art. Natural processes such as how things break down over time, the way water staining travels over uneven surfaces, and the erosion of paint have always intrigued me. I also began to find faces and creatures suggested by the patterns etched into the wood grain. This artifact opened in me, an interior gate leading to a deeper understanding of my own artistic process. It inspired me to tear the gate apart and create from its pieces the first batch of totems.
I make my totems from wood that has lived its life as part of a structure such as a house or fence. Scarred and worn wood makes the most interesting pieces to work with. I break the wood, creating ragged edges and natural abstract forms dictated by the way wood splits along the grain. I then play with the broken pieces laying them out in compelling compositions. I like to assemble the hardware, copper strips, and found objects in a way that divorces them from their original function. I use these found objects purely for their design potential. The paint is then applied in multiple thin glazes with a light sanding between the layers to emphasize the texture, and creates an intriguing evolution of color.
I hope that my totems inspire you the viewer, as that original gate inspired me - as a key to unlock a special little door in your mind, that when opened, spins you into a part of yourself half known yet instantly remembered.