In the Sandbox

Some kids would drag their toys into the sandbox, burying their G.I. Joes in windswept desert landscapes.  Others would bring their Star Wars action figures to the planet Tatooine to sacrifice to the Saarlaac pit.  Occasionally, the Masters of the Universe would find their way past Grayskull to the sandy dunes only to find a barren land without an oasis.  I, on the other hand, would dig in the sand, build fortresses, act out elaborate stories and chase girls with the cat poop that invariably is to be found in the sandbox. 

My bedroom was like a museum. Everything had its place in a rotating display of various tableaus and vignettes. I would draw, make sculptures with Play-Doh, and color incessantly with my crayons. The walls were covered with collages and posters that reflected my evolving tastes in popular culture and were often altered to include myself in the starring roles.

As an adult I became an art teacher, mostly teaching art classes to children. These children would pick up a lump of clay and begin to model it into whatever they wanted to see. Often, their creations looked little like what they were attempting to build except to their own eyes. I began to really admire the way they build with a fearlessly intuitive hand, no need for references, no need for accuracy, only the raw desire to see the product of their work and the sheer joy of making.

As an artist, I maintain a child-like approach to art making. I make my work so that I can see it exist, allowing self-indulgence to guide my expression. The influence of countless hours in front of the television set watching cartoons has lodged inside my head an aesthetic that owes as much to Tex Avery as to Andy Warhol. The commercials for every breakfast cereal that my mother would never allow me to consume have left me hungry for everything that will rot my teeth. The spirit of the cartoon soundtracks of Bill Lava accompanies me as I work in the studio, like a chimp tied to an organ grinder.

My art is the process of making manifest by hand the whims of my mind. As such, there is no problem in spending a month making a giant, non-functioning robot. A ceramic tricycle is the most logical thing in the world. Why shouldn’t a poorly stitched together hippo watch TV? It all becomes part of the same game, played by a larger version of that obnoxious little boy: digging in the sandbox, searching for the poop.