Everytime I walk into a museum, a theater, or a hotel, my mind immediately races. I stand off to the side and envision the possibilities for transforming this space into something people have never seen before. I think, perhaps, that creating an installation for a space that has thousands of square feet has to be a lot like composing a symphony: every part of the room serves a purpose and works with other sections to create an overall effect that dazzles visitors and gives them an unforgettable experience. Although I love to make fire portraits that are eight feet tall, I am more than ready to take my art to the largest venues and use it to create other worlds. I cannot imagine anything more fulfilling or exciting than this.
My mind is basically both highly imaginative and very structured, which is a weird combination at times. It has to be that way, though, because choreographing the creation of art for such a big space relies on that structure even if the final result is whimsical or mysterious. It takes finesse, I suppose, to build a solid foundation for a set but to let it appear graceful and unplanned. There must be a design, thought, and vision behind it so that all of the pieces flow, but at the same time, I must make it look effortless. Because of these two contrasting parts of my mind, I am able to do this.
It makes sense, then, that I am so attracted to doing large-scale projects: they are what I most dream of doing, especially since my CalArts days, when I created a huge installation on the university’s front lawn. With that experience under my belt, I want to bring my artistic vision to bigger and more unusual locations, including the exteriors and interiors of entire buildings. I want to take it a step further and collaborate with architects to create immersive environments out of my artwork, including in business and hotel lobbies. With my artistic ability to create these worlds that are unlike anything anyone has seen, I would love to be given more and more opportunities through space, funding, and resources to create these worlds. I have so many portraits at my studio, ready to go, that I can create a set much faster than other artists who would have to start at the very beginning.
I also see myself collaborating with other artists of other mediums. I know I would love to work on a Broadway show, ballet, or opera and create these sets out of my artwork. They are sculptures that double as performance spaces due to the sheer magnitude of scale. When you add my artwork to the passion and stories that come with plays or musicals, then you will have a real experience for the audience, one that won’t be found anywhere else.
I really want to be working with larger ideas, which is what it comes down to in the end. My mind and imagination go much bigger than the wood panels I currently work with. Yes, I still love the process of creating portraits, but I want to use them to create larger installations. A portrait I created this afternoon will accompany another 100, all of which will create a space of 1000s of square feet. Having the opportunity to create those spaces is what excites me and is, I believe, what I will be most remembered for.
My day will come. Until it does, I will continue to refine my skills and look forward to the day when I walk into that Broadway theater or Chicago hotel, ready to transform it into the masterpiece I have had in my mind for years. I have faith that this day is speeding my way, and I will be ready for it when it arrives.