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For my booth at the Clio Art Fair I am presenting framed examples from four different bodies of work, hanging on the wall, along with sixty or so loose small drawings in a tabletop portfolio. The framed drawings are all tied together in that they share an exploration of text as hand rendered.
The first body of work, from the “Drone Legislation” series consists of a suite of four drawings that comprise the complete text of Virginia’s drone legislation. The “Drone Legislation” series (a work in progress), was first exhibited at “The Garage” in Portland, Maine in a “pop up” show titled “Seeing Red” in 2015. The drone series was sourced from state legislation passed, starting in 2013, regarding regulatory policies that different states have applied to commercial sUAS (drone) operation. “Drone Legislation: Virginia” contains the complete legislative language of Virginia’s law. In 2015, 45 states have considered 166 bills related to drones. Issues here range from prohibiting the entering the airspace of an individual in order to capture an image or recording of that individual engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity without permission to the weaponizing of drones as happened by a teenager in Connecticut last year. Within the rendered transcription of “Drone Legislation: Virginia” I’ve circled out, in word search fashion, my own intuitively discovered words like: Orwell, Orgy, Last Supper and Mewl, giving the dry text a saucy and suggestive undertone.
The next body of work, “Homes in Maine: Signature Collection” also shown for the first time at the “pop up” show “Seeing Red” in 2015 has text sourced from a “magazine” quality real estate brochure insert, highlighting homes for sale to the 1%. The language tries to sex up the mundane features of each home’s countertops, woodwork and triple bay garages. I’ve inserted my own antagonistic and suggestive imagery to push the drawings along.
“Flood”, another body of work, was first exhibited in its 320 drawing (for this fair I am showing drawings #’s 143 through 150) entirety at BUOY in Kittery, Maine in 2015. It is essentially the transcription of a 30,000-word comment stream that followed a Yahoo! News article that caught my attention. The article was about the vanishing Moken Sea Nomads of Thailand/Myanmar. Within this text I circled out the story of Noah, through the Tower of Babble and on to the story of Abraham. Both texts anguish over the fate of humanity and consequently both texts include words like “destruction” and “earth”. Part of the pleasure of painting and drawing the texts was lucking out when a chance confluence of the two texts shared a complete word as when both texts contained the word “bird”, “water” or “days”, or when the comment stream actually referenced the bible by odd chance.
Finally I have one drawing titled “Subregion” from a suite of drawings that were created as a body of work titled, “Darfur at Our Doorstep”, which was first exhibited in 2011 at the now defunct “Meg Perry Center”, a center for peace, justice and community in Portland, Maine. I had originally approached this group and asked them if I could create a body of work for exhibition in their gallery space that might explore any issues important to them. They introduced me to el Fadel Arbab, a refugee from Darfur in the Sudan, who shared their office space as a staging ground for his programs of speaking engagements that told his story and raised awareness for the plight of his homeland. El Fadel’s village was attacked when he was twelve and he survived on his own for many years until he found refuge in the U.S. in Portland, Maine. In 2010 he became a U.S. citizen.
For this series of drawings I began by interviewing el Fadel then looking up the word "Sudan" in the dictionary. I soon started to discover many other words on the same page as “Sudan” that seemed to fit into this story. I then decided to make each word into an acronym of my own design to further guide the word’s meaning toward my purpose. I then wove parts of my interview with El Fadel into the acronym's words. Additionally I included the history of Chevron oil, which was the first oil company to discover oil in the Sudan and which has since left the Sudan; a speech given by the late John Garang upon the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan in 2005; text from the Darfur Peace Agreement and finally statistics on weapons used by the Sudan military.