Artist Statements

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Dangerous Passage

Rites of Passage

December, 1994

I constantly sift through my collections: collections of rocks, shells, bones, drawings, photographs. Often I will spread them out across the surfaces of the tables in my studio. As I sort through my materials, images will come to mind and I will make notes of them. To these I will add the images that come in dreams or in waking reveries in nature. I consider my sketches diagrams — blueprints or seeds for the future. They are stored until I find the right time to realize them.

Most of the ideas in the Rites of Passage series are taken from my sketchbooks and were intended to be drawings. Then the computer came into my life. Digital imaging, the medium I had been longing for but which had been inaccessible was now suddenly accessible. Ironically, it seemed the material had come full circle from photographs to drawings and back again.

The drawings were intended to be black and white. But on the computer I composed the work in color; most of the materials are drawn from color photographs. As I continued, it became clear that the literalness of color was not serving the content of the images. They seemed best rendered in dreamlike monochromatic tones.

At an early age, I had been sensitized to the effects of subtle color on monochromatic images: by my father with the darkroom and my mother with printing presses. With the computer, I had all the tools of a painter and a printing press at my disposal and could add them to the techniques of the darkroom at will. Enjoying experimentation and not believing that any one method will work for all situations, I used the full range of tools available to me — painting color into areas selectively, desaturating full color images, building duotone and tritone curves, or converting black and white images to color and tinting them by shifting their color balances. I soon realized that digital imaging offered a greater degree of control and a wider, more varied palette than the traditional materials I had been exposed to.

Drawing heavily on archetypal imagery, using the bird as a metaphor for the human spirit, the series Rites of Passage charts the stages of development and significant encounters we must face in the course of our lives. It is a psychic chart, a metaphysical roadmap of an inevitable journey. Birth, disillusionment, epiphany, death — they are all something which we must inevitably undergo. The images invoke the theme of those key moments in life, but they do not draw out the particulars of an individual life. They exist solely to mark the crucial turning points we encounter in our lives.