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The Damaged Spirit of the African Elephant
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Finding Hope

Neon

12”x24”x3”

Hope is sometimes obscured in our culture.  When it can be found and experienced, it is transformational.  In this project I will site the word “Hope” in neon around the D.C. area.  It will be installed  in unlikely places, with the neon glow facing away from the viewer, and onto the building’s structure.  The glow from the hidden source pulls the viewer to look more closely, at which point, they can see the word “Hope” in a soft white glow of neon.  The project is titled “Finding Hope.”  I will make it a public interest project as sites are discovered and reported back to the studio, finally being announced on social media.

Knotted Gun

Ground Zero Series
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Neon, wood, acrylic paint

16”x20”x3”

To take the guns away from the citizens and the police – like England does.  

Missing Persons Flyers

Random Neons

I saw a news special on missing indigenous persons in the Southwest and how they are ignored. I realized that missing persons happen everywhere, including right in my backyard in Southeast DC. Having used neon in my artwork for 35 years, I thought of a new use: Emergency Neon to use the power of neon to draw attention to the issue. These neonized missing person flyers are available for public use.

NBC 4 Nightly News in Washington D.C. ran a story about the Emergency Neon project.

The Damaged Spirit of the African Elephant

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Unintentional Drawings

Neon, Wooden Mount, Transformer

5' x 6' x 4'

On a trip to Namibia, I discovered the Sans, arguably the oldest indigenous people in the world, the rock art they created, and the wild animals that inspired it. The Sans believed animals were portals into the spiritual world, and when they put paint to rock, the animal’s essence was harnessed, opening the spirit portals. This work is my attempt to capture the spirit of the African elephant, which is both tangible and intangible, elusive but recognizable. The piece is an 11ft x 8ft installation generated by 75 neon tubes made from vertical segments spaced 1.5 inches apart. The red markings on the majestic elephant’s tusks represent the horrific poaching in Africa, which has damaged the African elephant’s spirit.

Ground Zero Series

Cave Symbols

The Ground Zero Series is inspired by years of unrelated, overlapping graffiti on the walls of Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale Mississippi. The entire club is covered including, for example, lampshades, all of the woodwork, the felt on the pool table, and each slat on the window blinds. The years of overlapping graffiti tell stories of love, hate, exuberance and joy. Each mark is subject to an overlapping mark, until the messages become blurred and confused, only until someone makes an even bolder, broader mark, obscuring the history below. Finally, I make my own light mark, transforming and reinventing the images.​

 

After transforming my own random scribbles into neon drawings in the series “Unintentional Drawings” I noticed a photograph in (the NY Times) of the Ground Zero Blues Club taken by Shane Lavelette for the High Museum in Atlanta. It was for an exhibition titled “Picturing the South”, 2010. The image of a corner of the club immediately resonated, reminding me of my own random graffiti. Yet it was different; it was done by strangers in a dark classic southern blues club. There were decades of mostly intentional, overlapping marks entirely covering the club.

 

In February of 2013, I traveled to Clarksdale Mississippi to see the graffiti, first hand. The visual impact was astonishing. The feeling was similar to when I discovered my unintentional drawings years before. I stayed for two days in Clarksdale collaborating with photographer Evy Mages taking thousands of images of the club walls, ceilings and furnishings. They were all taken in low light and hand held. I selected the most poignant images, knowing I was going to light them and had them printed on 3’x2′ Epson premium photo paper-enhanced matte. Painted and scratched neon tubing was then used to highlight, deconstruct and reinvent the original images.

Random Neons

This artistic process was inspired by the random selection method originally developed by John Cage in the 50's. Tubes were selected randomly from my 25 year old collection of rejected, collected and donated neon tubes. They were then placed onto steel tubing and mesh structures without regard to composition. This method results in a colorful, spontaneous and arresting light sculpture.

Unintentional Drawings