In November, I was asked if I’d like to be featured on Another Year in LA, which is the online gallery of David and Cathy Stone. They were very open about what I could choose to show - it would be for January and February, which is great because I love the beginning of the year…always feel with a new beginning, anything is possible. For a while I tried to work on new animations, but soon realized that’s a much longer process and can’t be rushed. I opted to feature a different body of work connected by a single theme - what inspires us to make an image…our “Muse.”
Every artist has one, it can change over time, but it’s what keeps us going after that initial drive of creativity which launches young artists. When you’re younger, art-making can really be the only space you have to truly be yourself. As you get older, you start to make your own life…so making art long term, like any career, becomes a different experience and you often have to work for inspiration. As I looked at the different bodies of work, one thing that I did come back to over and over was the use of trees. They are these magnificent creatures that inhabit our world, but often seem like they were here long before us. I can completely see why JR Tolkien wrote about them as living creatures (the ents). Up until now, I hadn’t really thought about how often I use them in my work - so having this experience gave me an insight into how I work.
Here’s what I wrote as an introduction to the show:
“I wanted to start the year thinking about sources of inspiration. In my imagery I rarely use people because it becomes too specific - as if it’s about that individual. For me, trees occupy that space in a more open way… they form a perfect stand-in for the human spirit, for resilience, for eternity. They are often here before us…and we have the sense they will be here after us. They have their own existence, their own place in the world and we are just passing through.
In each of these series I’ve been inspired by trees in different ways. American Triptych was about creating a “portrait” of each town and trees referenced the town culture. As part of the Revisiting Project, where I have revisited locations over many years, the trees record seasonal change. In more documentary series such as LA Icons and Val Verde, they create the landscape we have grown up with, whether they are the palms of Hollywood or the Live Oaks on the coastal gardens. Trees play their biggest roles in my constructed images (Razor’s Edge and Chance Chronicles) where they are characters in an imaginary landscape.”