When I was a little fella I remember watching tv withy my family. Although I was really young some of those images are still so vivid. One particular image that made a major impression on me was the opening of King Fu, a made for television martial arts series starring David Carradine. In the opening he was walking toward the screen with the dessert sands stirred up by his bare feet. For me, that was such an awesome arrival. It was epic and humble at the same time. Oftentimes, that is how I see me journey as an artist
As an undergrad, I was told by a university professor that my “success is inevitable because this Alabama red clay is rich with the blood or your ancestors.” That quote inspired me. This Alabama red clay soil has been with me wherever I’ve moved over the course of my life. Eventually it guided me back to these red-clayed roots of my curiously nomistic Alabama rising.
Red clay was the pathway of my childhood. I’ve dyed fabrics with red clay, tinted wood, made pots, eaten it, used it as a mud mask, had mud/dirt fights, and made bricks. This red clay that caked on our shoes, stained our clothes, and the bottoms of our feet has taken on a powerful significance as it relates to my story and ancestral unfolding. I found that I could sculpt the unforgiving substance with water and brushes to build space on a flat surface. The clay responds very different from paints in that I mix the dry with the wet directly on the surface of the paper. The permanence is supreme. The paper is dyed by the iron oxides in the soil. The nature of red clay gives me the feeling that I’m painting with a living substance.
“We are linked by blood, and blood is memory without language.” Joyce Carol Oates
And that I receive as the truth that drives my work. Iron oxide gives the clay its red coloring. Iron is the essential element for blood production. Blood is the sacred force in man and beast – the ultimate sacrificial substance, representing life itself. Blood is a charged element that symbolically marks my work. Iron is present in blood and as oxides in the clay. Iron, also present in much of my work was used in building material, tools, and shackles. Iron serves as a viable conductor.
In my upbringing saddled with the binary history of the American south, I was faced with the peculiar positionality of the “Black body” and its usage in that history. “In my work, I contend with the duality, the double consciousness, of the “black body” and the mystery of dark matter, the most prevalent and least understood matter in the universe. Having been referred to as black gold, people of color in America were flattened into the monolith of projected nuances and chattel property. Take that and butt it up against the human experience of living while driven by an ancestral spiritual connection and survival. What you get is a people with the will of the gods. My ancestors spilled their lifeblood from the womb of the mother to the altars of this southern soil. My work honors the life/clay/blood connection of past to future. My work is a conduit and I am on on this path for life. Sacrifices activate the divine. The divine is the source of re-memberance, resurrection, redemption, and restoration. My artwork operates as a sacrament on those pillars, an invocation to reconnect to the sanctity of life. This is blood work.