The tension between who we are now and what we want to become is a fundamental motivating force in our lives. Most of us strive to be something better. To do this requires a certain fluidity of identity; we must willingly open our minds to new ideas and ways of thinking, and we must continually challenge our beliefs and behaviors. Based on new information, we try to rid ourselves of things we deem outdated or harmful and replace them with those we consider better or more consistent with who we want to be.
For a boy, the prospect of becoming a man is a significant driving force. Boys look around them to find male role models and then try to assemble from these various sources a masculine ideal that they hope to live up to. They imitate behaviors and attitudes that conform to this ideal and suppress those that do not. Long before they are of age, they begin to “act” like men. This act continues to evolve but never ends, even long after the boy has become a man.
In my paintings and drawings, I contrive fictional worlds populated exclusively by men. The figures in my compositions are drawn or painted from photo-based collages made by recombining parts from various images of men. The collage process refers the constructed nature of gender and how boys form their concept of male roles, i.e. by piecing together the perceived characteristics of cultural icons and stereotypes with those of influential men in their lives.
My figures exist in awkward relationship with one another, and their activities suggest unresolved narratives. My work explores how boys are socialized and how this socialization affects both their identity as adults and their interactions with other men. I use the illusionism of representational art as a metaphor for the artificiality of gender. Incompletely rendered forms, along with evidence of erasure, correction, obfuscation, and expressive processes refer to the actual art-making as well as to the mutability of gender constructs, and the struggle boys face in their efforts to forge a masculine identity.