Creating an ARTifact of Time…
I see beauty in the industrial and mechanical, the urban and rural environments, and then I interpret them in a way that creates a sense of time and place. I create images that are more than just surface deep. They become “artifacts” or pieces of my subject. My unique artistry has developed from an ever changing process of experimentation and refinement with different materials and techniques over the last 10 years.
It often takes days of planning and searching to find my subjects and capture my photos. I try to create a visual story and connect it to the larger environment as an “environmental portrait.” Using distressed steel as the base for my prints, I go beyond the image and create a visual connection between the subject and the surface it is printed on.
Each piece of steel is unique as a result of the process of building up the natural rust and patina on each piece. This process can take up to 3 months as I place objects between the plates to create marks and “images” of the objects as they decay. If you look closely at the surfaces of most of my work, you will see impressions of leaves, the edges of other plates, saw blades, gears, washers from rail cars, and sometimes even pieces of scrap found at the location the photo was shot. This allows me to match my images with their unique piece of steel.
Once the steel has aged for an appropriate time, it takes up to a week of surface work to strip and reveal the results of the aging process using power tools, acids, and even a little bit of elbow grease. Sanding alone can take up to 6 hours, done in multiple sessions.
Each piece of steel has a unique look defined by nature and my process. Based on the feel I get as I look at the steel piece, I choose an image that connects with it, deciding if it is a triptych or a single panel. The image is then printed to the metal with various techniques and clear coated. The final images are float mounted on stained wood using distressed bolts to maintain the aged industrial and worn appearance. The boards are float mounted off the wall. This makes the pieces look large and heavy, but the pieces actually weigh less than a mirror or a traditional framed pieces of the same size with glass. This feeling of weight is an illusion I have worked hard to develop and many are surprised to find that my larger pieces weigh less than 40 lbs.
I view my steel work as living pieces of art. Rust is a living thing and will change and grow over time. Although I use clear coats to protect them, the steel pieces, like your car, will change depending on conditions. Most collectors view this as an exciting aspect of my work. For those that are concerned about this possibility, I also work with hand distressed, industrial aluminum panels that I sand and paint to look like steel. This offers a more stable and lighter option that provides a similar feel to the steel. This has become a popular option when working with interior designers and decorators.