Using symbolism, figuration, and an abundance of details in my paintings, I focus on creating surreal narratives involving combinations of plants, animals, and objects in the natural world. These depictions of imaginarily mutated organisms covered in fungi, spiderwebs, insects, and leafy vines are portrayed as individual microcosms existing in liminal-type spaces. Though the
origin stories of these works are founded in my personal emotional experiences, I invite viewers to participate in the storytelling as they discover hidden details, ironies, and tensions woven into these small worlds of interacting objects. Through our narratives I hope we can share our perceptions and broaden our curiosity about the world, while exchanging information that may lead to new problem solving and mindfulness.
In this painting series for my residency, I chose to bring an ironic element to the creative process by collaborating with technology to enrich the narratives I tell through subjects of nature. I utilized an artificial neural network program developed by InferKit which is designed to generate short amounts of text based off a given prompt. After first envisioning the general concept of a painting, I gave key phrases and words from my ideas to the AI program. It then produced a brief narrative, list, or description from which I found inspirational imagery to include in the final paintings.
This process of melding my creative thoughts with artificially generated ideas allowed me to experiment with the vast informational resource of technology, and therefore create a more diverse story than what I might have produced by my experiences alone. When we understand the tools we have (whether low- or high-tech), we can use them to give us the extra push forward in our natural abilities. And when we come across something we do not understand we must face it with openness of mind and intellect, ask questions, and challenge it until we dismiss the fear of the unknown.
Photos by John Aylward