my life in Greek myth
artist statementI had the opportunity to spend two years in Berlin, absorbing and reacting to German history and culture. This evidently has had some consequences for my work. My palette shifted, and my subject matter. Daily confrontations with difference caused a profound self-questioning introversion, and what I found inside changed my art. These paintings are the early results. The Sphinx series rotates around the central symbol of a monster, a winged woman-lion. In Greek mythology, she haunted crossroads and demanded that travelers solve a riddle or be devoured. The Sphinx came strongly to mind while in Germany. When you are there, you just can’t get away for a single day from the riddles and wrong answers and tragedies of history. Also, I realized pretty quickly once I got there that the riddles are still much the same and the history is far from dusty. The struggles go on. I expected WW2 and nationalism to be strictly off-limit subjects in conversation with new German friends. I was wrong. Germans of my generation really wanted to talk about these things and often the first conversation we would have of any real depth was about WW2 and contemporary German nationalism. Issues of identity, pride, belonging and exclusion, seem so nearly eternal. The more I learned about how German friends of my generation were struggling with these conundrums, the deeper inside myself I spun. When I began this series, I had a sort of academic understanding of the Sphinx as a complex symbol which for some artists historically referred to the Irrational, an irrational so powerful that it can find expression in mass surges of scapegoating and murderous persecution. As I worked with the symbol it shifted and of course became personal. She became a symbol of a particular kind of crisis, one that cannot be avoided or navigated with any kind of glib intellectualizing. She represents the kind of crisis where what choice you make is pretty much the measure of what kind of person you are, and what kind of life you will have. Whenever I stand at a turning point, where a choice must be made and that choice matters in ways I cannot predict, she is there. And now she is sort of an ally.