I think the crux of my art practice relies on a couple of axioms I’ve cobbled together. I think the primary axiom is a belief in having a material fulfillment layer to the concepts that drive my art practice. Literally, I need to make things. It’s not enough for me to have a sort of conceptual practice, which is something I believe my art practice incorporates. The formal material decisions I make when I’m creating sculptures flows from the concepts. And back again. And I think that’s maybe the cornerstone of my practice. Case in point, I don’t consider myself a painter, even though I’ve painted a lot this last year and a half. I’ve made and used all kinds of materials in my artwork. And I think the mutability and decentralized nature of my medium works with the abstract thoughts they are trying to funnel. It just does. I love making things with my hands. I also love to think. And learn. And grow. And I love to write incomplete sentences…

The second axiom I think revolves around a level of personal responsibility to what I’m doing. In other words, I’m well aware of the fact that the only person I can control is myself. The only person I can change is myself. There’s this free will aspect to it, I guess. The work that I create revolves around a sort of somatic therapy perspective. And my engagement with materials and abstract ways of thinking has its origins in this approach. It can be seen as self-centered. And it might be. But the great thing about what I do and the materials I use is that it’s not exclusive. Most of the materials I use can be found at Home Depot. Most of the skills I have can be picked up relatively quickly. Anybody can do it. I’ve learned a lot by just watching youtube videos. If anything, I believe that part of what I like about my artwork, is the idea that somebody might look at one of my sculptures and think “I can do that.” And they probably could. And nothing would make me happier than if somebody actually went out and tried. The benefit of creating art or just being engaged in a creative endeavor, whatever it might be is something that might not be quantifiable by science. But I know what I feel when I’m making art. I know what I feel when I look at art. And I know what I feel like when I talk about art. I feel happy. Because that’s everything to me. Not being happy, necessarily. Creating is everything. Creating something out of nothing and taking a step back and saying to yourself “I made that.” It’s one of the greatest joys of my life. To create. To grow. And to learn.

The third axiom is that I do not believe that there needs to be a demonstrable change in the world that arises as a direct result of my artworks. (See Axiom Two) The effect or change is occurring within the only context I can control. And that’s within myself. Every time I create a new artwork I feel like I’m growing. I feel like I’m confronting my past and growing through the material and conceptual investigations I’m deeply engaged in exploring. And since my art practice is centered on my own family history I feel like I’m able to sometimes understand my family and my ancestors plainly.

Axiom #4: The generational trauma that arises directly as a result of Colonialism and the innumerable atrocities that were committed is not something to be taken lightly. There’s a mountain of bones on which nations have built their empires. America is no exception. And I’m here to never forget that. I believe that’s part of the role I’ve chosen my artwork to occupy. I’m here to say “What about the bones?” Not as an accusation. But as a fact that needs to be dealt with. Presidents change. Cabinet members change. But that mountain of bones populated with the bones of my ancestors and millions of people around the world who are dealing with this generational trauma, is still there. It is not going anywhere. I’m here to never forget that. I refuse to get over that fact. I refuse to look past it. Because unless you start from the beginning, there is no healing.

The fifth axiom revolves around the unshakeable belief that I am engaged in a serious endeavor but their needs to be this playfulness present also. And since I am engaged in a serious endeavor everything that surrounds it or emanates from art is approached with a level of dedication and passion that is required of such a perspective. While I can say, I don’t play at art. Simultaneously, I mean I do, that’s actually a lot of what I do. But that playfulness can be thought of similar to the airplane noises a parent creates, when they are trying to get their baby to eat the super nutritious and physically beneficial Carrot Sweet Potato Pea Gerber baby food. A baby needs nutrition. It needs sustenance. It’s vital for their growth. It’s something to be taken seriously. But sometimes you also gotta make those airplane or choo-choo train sound effects to convince the baby to eat the nutritious food it needs to grow.

I guess this leads me back to why I started this blog in the first place. I need to grow. I think everything grows. Or it wilts. I don’t plan on being on social media to promote my artwork. I honestly think that any serious endeavor never crosses over to entertainment. Social media is entertainment. And what I’m doing isn’t entertainment. It’s not meant to entertain. It’s not meant to be consumed through Instagram posts or Retweets. So, I’ve decided that this website and blog is the only public facing apparatus that I’ll employ in service of the artwork I’m creating. If at any point in the future I feel like this website or blog is somehow preventing me from engaging in the art I’m making, than this will have to go too. And if I continue this blog, and so far I feel like I will. You’ll see me grow. Hopefully. You’ll see me develop these ideas.

There’s no secret. No mystery to what I’m doing. There’s no duplicitousness at work here. There’s a certain guilelessness that I hope to hold on too as I continue on in higher education. (I’m currently working towards an MFA in Fine Art.) I honestly don’t know I would even know where to begin if I wanted to cultivate a certain cunningness or deceitfulness. And I’m positive it might serve to my detriment in the ruthless Fine Art Market. But I don’t care. I’m here for that art. I’m here for the growth. If at any point, you see an artwork on my website and feel or think “I could do that.” Do it. And hopefully you’ll open up a whole new universe for personal growth and happiness. And sometimes you just make some really cool looking stuff. Do it.

Yesterday, I began researching the 1954 Coup conducted by the CIA in Guatemala again, a research topic I’ve been obsessed with for as long as I can remember. Every time I try and conduct research on this event I have to stop after a couple of sentences. It bothers me. Deeply. It’s just too close. I’m actually living, and I’ve been living for the past 31 years in the wake of this calamitous political event, that took place over 60 years ago in Guatemala. But yesterday, I stopped to consider if I really needed to go down this path, yet again. A path where I get caught up in the details of the coup and lose the bigger picture. It should be enough for me to know that this event took place and know the major facts about the event. And I do. I can outline the beginning, middle, and end of this event and never be at a loss for words with which to populate and continue the narrative. But this path that I’ve been on, where the art practice I’ve painstakingly cobbled together over the past couple of years, starts to become eerily similar to what a conspiracy theorist does, is something I have to follow. I don’t have the level of derision some people hold for conspiracy theories and those who champion their existence. In fact, I have a lot more in common with the person who takes their distrust for authority, power structures and ultimately the United States a little too far that it begins to veer off into incoherent diatribes, then the run-of-the-mill person who has no distrust of the government and has a hard time believe any government official would intentionally mislead their constituency.

There have been times, where I feel like I need to stop this research. And just move on. But something inside me just cannot seem to get over it. I just can’t. So here I am writing a blog about how my art practice is starting to resemble the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist. So what. So what if my research reveals how the Catholic Church had direct involvement with the overthrowing of a democratically elected President in Guatemala in 1954. So what if my research reveals that E. Howard Hunt, infamous for his role in Watergate, who during this time was working for the Central Intelligence Agency, known the world over as the greatest intelligence service of any country in the world, is quoted as saying “I wouldn’t presume to trace the lines of authority within the Catholic Church… how they get their information they deal with… We’ve always said in an admiring way that the Jesuits (The Society of Jesus is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome) form the greatest intelligence service in the world and always have.” What am I supposed to do with that information? Just ignore it. Or think of it as the ramblings of an old, washed-up spook? So, what do I do? I instinctively turn to my place of refuge and seek guidance and clarity. I turn to J.R.R. Tolkien and the universe he created. Whenever I’m having a hard time making sense of complex ideas or anything really, I’ve always found that Tolkien usually comes through. So here we go….

If you’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien, specifically The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you should be familiar with Lord Sauron and his quest to rule middle earth. In this trilogy, Sauron (CIA) is the big bad guy, the evilest and most powerful entity in Middle Earth. And all of the might of the Fellowship and the free world is directed towards stopping this manifested evil. But do you know about Morgoth? If you don’t know, Morgoth is an Ainur in Tolkien mythology. The Ainur are divine spirits, Morgoth was the first and most powerful of them all. Morgoth is actually credited with creating Arda, which is the name Tolkien assigned to the whole earth where his stories took place. Morgoth created a whole planet. Sound familiar? The Holy Roman Empire or the Roman Catholic Church should definitely be credited with shaping huge portions of Earth. The Catholic Church has played a pivotal role in the creation of the Earth we live in now. That level of power isn’t common. Sauron on the other hand, can be seen as Morgoth’s greatest servant. So, while Sauron is the big bad guy in the LOTR trilogy he still serves a master, someone stronger and older than himself.

Now here comes E. Howard Hunt, a servant to the CIA (Sauron), and someone who was an active participant in the 1954 Coup, an event that then director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, would later describe as “one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.” Hunt is quoted as saying “We’ve (CIA/Sauron) always said in an admiring way that the Jesuits (Morgoth) form the greatest intelligence service in the world and always have.” In other words, if this is true, I’ve been under the impression that I had already found the end-all-be-all (Sauron) of this evil that ravage a nation, left over 200,000 Guatemalans dead, many of which were buried in mass graves, and forced my parents to look for a better life for themselves and their children abroad.

Maybe the CIA and my obsession with understanding IT is all just a dodge. Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. Maybe I’m wrong again. And again. But the work continues. The art never stops. Can’t stop. It’s the only thing that I think works anymore. Art.

I’m continually exploring what drives my art practice. It’s not this one monolithic motivation. There is no singular vision. There’s just a bunch of curiosity and a desire to poetically process information. Also, I like materials. I like exploring materials and using them in unconventional ways. I like making stuff with my hands. As I’ve expounded on in my latest thesis, it’s not enough for me to have these concepts and think them through to their conclusion. For me, and how I see the world and myself, there needs to be a fulfillment layer to these concepts. And I believe I’m on that path. It’s a singular path, I think. Meaning that nobody else really needs to be doing what I’m doing, in order for me too somehow feel like I’m heading in the right direction. I’m also aware and believe that there’s nothing really new under the sun. And I’ve gotten great enjoyment in tracking down the origins of these seemingly unique ideas I receive. Which I somehow manage to conjure up in my mind and fullfill through my material explorations.

I guess it’s not so much about unique or fresh. I think, for me, it’s much more about this unwavering devotion to the practice of art. It’s about an unshakeable belief in the power of creativity. And harnessing that creativity through my person and into artworks. That will never get old for me. That process and that feeling of engaging in a serious creativity endeavor is an evergreen state. As things around me seem to change. The power of that creative drive is unchanging. That contrast activates something within my artistic persona that calms me.

            Recently, I’ve thought about moving away from sculpture and exploring different mediums. But simultaneously I feel like that’s the wrong move. I think it’s a reactionary step to take. We are living in reactionary times. I’m much more interested in a long-term devotional type of relationship with sculpture and art in general. I’m not interested in short-term reactionary frames of mind. I think there’s something to be said about the unique relationship that may form between an artist and their chosen medium. Plus, I’d feel like I was cheating myself out of really knowing what I can do with sculpture. If anything, I’d say this was a perfect opportunity to reevaluate how I think, feel, and what I want to say with sculpture. I think making smaller objects is an option. Maybe I can think of them as devotional trinkets. Or I can incorporate sound and video. Something that been done countless times before. But that ‘s alright. I mean if I’m working from the “there’s really nothing new under the sun” axiom. What does it matter. A blog isn’t fresh. But here I am.

            Speaking about his blog, I don’t really have a clear vision for it. And that’s fine. I’m working off of a loose framework of this being a way to trace how I’m thinking about sculpture and art. And how it may change and evolve over time. I have a sculpture project I’ve been thinking about for a while now but just haven’t had the space or access to see it through. Next week should be the time to get it done. It’s already finished in my mind. The image of how it’s going to look, and function and come together is already there.

I won’t announce it. I won’t put up an Instagram post about it. It’ll just exist. It will just be there. It will manifest itself in this fulfillment layer just like anything else does. Without pomp and circumstance. Without likes on social media to artificially bolster its significance or perceived freshness. It will at one time not be here. Then be here. And just like anything else it will suddenly move on. And….. I think I don’t even know what I’m talking about this far down into the blog post. Either way, now it’s just about making it.

Whenever I’m indecisive about starting a new artwork or research topic, there’s this inevitable instinctual postponing of the start date. And in that procrastination things begin to pile up. I’ve thought about starting a blog for a while now. The focus of said blog would be to just trace and document how I think, feel, and work through the conceptual interests that drive my material practice. I don’t have any answers to the questions I’m continually asking myself. I don’t even know if I’m even asking the right questions. Either way, the best solution that I’ve found to this manufactured problem is to just do the work. Shut up. And just do the work.

Over the past couple of years, it worked brilliantly. Because in that material work, a lot of things that were stuck in my brain always seem to find a way to inspire formal and material decisions. It’s a working man’s way of approaching a material art practice. But times are definitely different now. And for various reasons, that are outside my control, that material work hasn’t been able to be conducted. I could keep charging on, as I’ve outlined above, force myself to work even though the conditions aren’t amicable to such a deep dive into materials, as I’m accustomed to conducting in the past. But instead I thought I’d start a blog.

There is never a drought of ideas or inspiration for artwork, at least in my own experience. Because I’ve worked for hundreds of hours, in the past couple of years, to sort of build that avenue or boulevard between my conceptual interests and the formal and material decisions I make. But right now, it’s as if it’s not so much about using that boulevard. I think right now, it’s more about going back and maintaining that path.

About two weeks ago, the city came by and laid down new asphalt throughout the neighborhood. And from my apartment I could hear and feel the work that was being done. As this old asphalt was torn asunder, the concrete underneath was still intact. The street was still there, of course. But the working surface was changing. Things change. Things grow. And as this work progressed, the city workers brought in huge machinery in order to relevel the street. Followed by pouring a new layer of petroleum asphalt over the concrete. I think that’s a good way to illustrate what and how I’m feeling these days. There’s a lot of work being done. It’s loud. Like “Hey! I’m working here!” But it’s really not that much to it. I think it’s necessary work, that needs to be done. I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anybody reading this. But I’m comfortable having a more nebulous perspective on art and my art practice. I may change my mind and rip up this new layer of asphalt and start again. Nevertheless, the concrete underneath remains unchanged. That boulevard between concepts and formal and materials decisions is not going anywhere. So why do I feel the way I feel? There’s an urgency and a pervasive frustration that keeps me going down a not so beneficial path. But through writing this first blog entry I think I am metaphorically stopping myself. Taking a deep breath. And just looking around. Let’s see what happens.