I had a friend tell me once, that artists shouldn't talk about their work. "The work should do the talking", he would say. As I prepared to give my talk about the Red Chair installation today, I thought about those words. Like a good joke, you shouldn't have to explain a work of art for people to get it. Therefore, I decided not to talk about the work on the wall. Instead, I decided to talk about how we got to the day the art was installed.
For me, I trace the beginning of this story to October of 2013. A group of students were driving a rented van down I-10 into West Texas. Our destination was Marfa. We were going to the Chinati Festival, and it was going to be a great trip. When we made it back home, we were so inspired that we turned a previously unused hallway into a student art show.
At that time I was working in several different mediums: painting, printmaking, ceramics and wood. In each medium I was working in separate directions, but all were outward facing. In my Motorhead paintings I was working on how people deal with the outside world. In my Relic sculptures and ceramics I was thinking about the things people leave behind.
After Marfa, I began to gaze more inwardly. The different paths I was on began to converge, and this culminated in 2015 with my "Constructing the Dance" show. It was in the work around this show that the Red Chair first made it's appearance. There is one piece that I can point to that was the first official Red Chair painting. Much of the foreground is a seated figure; however, the chair appears between the figure and the open door in the background. I made the specific choice to use red for the chair because it became more of a living character as the piece formed. I tend to use red sparingly in my work, and usually on living things. Prior to this painting, I had incorporated furniture and chairs, but they were usually blue or umber.
After the "Constructing the Dance" show, the red chair has continued to appear in pieces of my work. During a recent show at Archway Gallery, I submitted a monochromatic red piece of a chair and a figure with red shadows of the chair dancing across the canvas. After creating that piece I decided that I wanted to create an installation if the Red Chair. I asked the artist Cookie Wells to collaborate with me. Her figurative work had the kind of energy that I felt would work well with the Red Chair concept. She agreed, and we began work on the figurative pieces.
It has been a great experience seeing how people interact with the pieces in the installation. I am even more convinced that I want to continue with installations. It has been a great journey to get to this point, and I expect the next several years will have great new things to explore.