My latest series of paintings and drawings portray women fighting and grappling with each other in poses inspired by wrestling. For a long time, I have described this series as characterized by anger and the passion of violent, animalistic rage. But that's not entirely true.
These works are about a wide spectrum of emotions and psychological states. They're my humble attempt to render some of the most powerful aspects of the human experience in corporeal form, with the female form serving as a vehicle for this expression.
The postures themselves are only the surface level, and simply set the stage for a broader range of possible interpretations. These vignettes of wrestling - tangled limbs and intertwined body parts - can reveal not just the passion of anger, but the passion of something else, something more ambiguous. To one viewer these scenes may appear less like expressions of fury, and more like the raw contemplation of our deepest fears. To another, more like erotic desire or pleasure than anger. Like sharp, crushing grief or despair. Maybe multiple emotions and internal experiences, all at once. All-consuming love and overwhelming joy, mixed and stirred up with the darkest hour of the soul, inseparably. The uncontainable everything. Perhaps, if I can only paint well enough, transcendence.
During my adolescence and early twenties, I struggled with bouts of depression and its common companion, anxiety. In my first year or two out of art school, I also experienced terrifying panic attacks. Every emotion was intensified. Every negative thought or feeling felt magnified. This, even when my fight-or-flight response wasn't short-circuiting.
During this time, I was living in Austin and found myself attending a concert I didn't really want to be at, in a small, dark and packed venue. Standing in the back, the music and bass pulsing through my body, a wave of powerful dark emotion crashed over me out of nowhere. It began as deep, clawing, claustrophobic despair. But it was more than just a feeling - the experience was inherently physical. Standing still and silent, I had a deeply sad, violent urge to crash my body into the nearest brick wall - like something inside was trying to crawl out of my skin. In that moment, an image flashed into my mind. A sea of flesh and limbs, dozens of figures grappling and intertwining in a vicious struggle. Instantly, I recognized this experience as inspiration, and I saw the image as a painting. Even though I was at no real risk of acting on it, what began as an absurd and destructive impulse became creative.