Hi David tells us a little bit about yourself, your history and how you came to be who you are today!
I'm a very youthful 42 year old saggitarius. I've been married and divorced twice and have two children, one from each marriage, and they are both excellent artists. I went to a commercial art school in Philadelphia and spent a year at a fine art school as well. I majored in illustration, but after spending a year freelancing, I became very dissatisfied with the whole idea of being an illustrator--at least in the sense that I understood it at the time. I began looking at fine art and discovered the idea that I could say something more profound and meaningful about my life and experience, thoughts and feelings, etc. with art than could be done making spot illustrations of bowls of soup for restaurant menus. I became a painter, but grew very discouraged at how hard it was just to get your work seen, let alone sell it. I was also confused about what direction to go in with my work, both stylistically and thematically. I made a lot of new-agey figurative pictures which reflected my interest in mysticism at the time--pretty, but with no real teeth to them. Another problem was that I had developed some very slow and time-consuming techniques that took all the freshness and spontaneity out of the original visual ideas. I ended up destroying a lot of work from this period and I have very little left from before the age of 34. I actually decided to give up art at one point and go back to school to become a psychologist, but I had a nervous breakdown of some kind and had to drop out. I now believe that whole episode to be due to my muse, my daimon not allowing me to give up art. I finally found my artistic voice in the mid-90s due to two events. The first was buying a Macintosh and discovering that I could actually make art with a computer. I developed techniques of combining traditional media with digital that allowed me to keep the freshness and energy of my first drawings and still create a very refined and finished piece. As far as I know, some of these techniques are my own, as I still haven't seen anyone else doing anything quite like them. The second event was creating my Holocaust series. Although in retrospect not all of the pieces are equally as strong, and it's somewhat lacking in cohesiveness simply because I was experimenting with what the computer could do, it was the first time I had really addressed pain and trauma on a personal or collective level and it was a great turning point for me. I finally felt like I was saying something of substance with my art. I was using it in the service of healing, and people started responding in a very positive way. The series was posted on remember.org and I immediately started receiving e-mails from all over the world. People were very moved by it and this was a revelation to me. After years of confusion and frustration and feeling as if I were working in a vacuum, I suddenly had the ability to actually affect people in some way with my work. How I came to be who I am today is a much more complex question. Some possible answers might be: through struggling to tame and befriend my demons; through learning to hear my own true inner voice amongst the harsh lying voices implanted by others; through learning that in my position as an outsider, I could return to society with valuable perspectives not easily seen within the status quo.
Where are you currently living? And where are you working from?
I currently live in Willow Grove, which is a suburb of Philadelphia, and I work from my home. I have several part time jobs in the city teaching art.
What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a collaborative book project with writer/poet Leslie Powell. It's a rather unique approach (as far as I know) that we're taking. I am creating a series of images loosely based on the theme "personal childhood mythology" and Leslie is creating short prose poems and poetic pieces of prose to go with them. It's a reversal of the usual process where a writer writes something and then an illustrator embellishes the writing. I had been working on another book project with another writer who had taken some ideas of mine and written the text for a children's book based on them. I was very dissatisfied with the results and ultimately had to abandon the project. I felt very constrained by the need to adhere to the text; there was no room to stretch and use my imagination and intuition. Then, in response to my complaints, someone suggested that I should create the illustrations first and then have someone write the text to go with them. When I connected with Leslie and read her writing, I knew she was the right person to collaborate with as I felt our work shared many similar qualities. We both are very intuitive creators, reaching into distant and strange places to bring forth works that are ambiguous and multi-layered, filled with meaning and energy, but never completely spelled out in a linear fashion. We also both tend to be very honest emotionally in our work and address the wounds of the heart and the soul with a clear and compassionate eye. We're about halfway done at this point. The completed images can be seen on my site.
Can you tell us a little bit about your site alchemicalwedding.com and what people can expect to see there?
One can expect to see drawings, paintings, digital photocollage and manipulation and mixed media pieces, as well as clips from some animated videos. My art is strange, bizarre, off-kilter, irreverent, risque, quirky, surreal, dark, silly, whimsical and disturbing. You might be delighted by it or repulsed by it, or both, but I can almost guarantee that you will not be indifferent to it. The site also contains my poetry, which is in the same vein as the art, and my mail-art archives. The site was originally hosted for me by a very generous woman named Valery, an artist herself, who saw my work on other sites where I had it posted and offered me my own space on her domain even though we were complete strangers. She did the original design and was webmistress for a couple of years, and all because she liked my work. Thank you, Valery. Eventually the site got too big and I had to get my own domain and take over maintenance. That's why the graphic elements and fonts, etc. are not completely uniform. The site is kind of like one of those ancient buildings with additions from different time periods layered on--a collection of accretions. "Alchemical wedding" refers to the union of opposites within the psyche; the resolution of internal conflicts, the harmonious balancing of once discordant energies. http://www.alchemicalwedding.com
Can you describe the artistic intentions within your artwork?
My intention is to get out of my own way and allow the personal and collective unconscious to express itself and communicate in it's own language, symbolic images. Also, to bring about healing and integration by giving the shadow elements, the denied and repressed aspects of my psyche a voice. These intentions were not consciously conceived, but almost as if "discovered," and I can't help but feel that these artistic angels and devils that use me as their medium have future purposes and plans that I can't even imagine yet.
We love your work for its brutal honesty, humour, and sometimes very disturbing properties, how do you find people take your work? Is it negative, positive or largely other mixed reactions? And has other people's reaction to your work played a role in defining your artistic expression.
It's funny--I used to be so worried about how people would take my work. It was almost as if there were two artists in me: one that made the art and wanted to scream in people's faces with it and didn't care if they were shocked or outraged, and then the other who fretted about people being offended. I think those two parts have become more blended and merged within me, and I'm discovering that my audience is larger than I thought. "Normal" and "straight" people seem to respond well to it; the same people I used to be afraid to show it to. At an art fair where I was selling prints, one woman referred to some pieces that I would describe as "grotesque" as being "cute." That sort of showed me that I can't ever be sure how people are going to react or perceive the work. At this same art fair I had large numbers of children really fascinated by my art. One little girl said it scared her and made her laugh at the same time. I've actually had very few negative reactions, at least in terms of what's said to my face. And no, I couldn't allow other people's expectations to influence my art even if I wanted to. There is something in me that just refuses and that something is very strong.
What motivates you?
The desire to be seen and heard. The desire to be honest and pull the blinders off of everyone's eyes. The desire for healing to come about through that honesty. The need to feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose in life, even though I still don't really understand it. The desire to give inner worlds a concrete form.
Have you ever expressed your creative thoughts through mediums like animation, Photography or sculpture?
I have done some digital animation. It's very simple--kind of like South Park or Terry Gilliam's work for Monty Python. My two highest profile gigs to date are music videos for Six Feet Under's "Amerika the Brutal" and Drawn and Quartered's "Orgiastic Feast of Excremental Blasphemy," both of which were shown on MTV2. The SFU video was akin to moving photographic collage, and the D&Q video introduced some drawn elements, kind of like moving paper dolls. I've also done a short animated piece on the Holocaust called "Ariel's Kaddish" featuring the voices of my parents who are Jewish folksingers. I've dabbled a bit in both photography and sculpture. I would like to get into sculpture more, but just don't have the time for it at this point in my life.
Do you ever take your work to the computer?
I think that question's already been answered.
Who inspires you?
I'm inspired by so many artists, it would be impossible to list them all here. Some of the biggest have been: Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dali, Hans Bellmer, Albrecht Durer, Jan van Eyck, Robert Crumb, Joe Coleman, Frida Kahlo, Alex Gray, Max Ernst, Mati Klarwein, Maurice Sendak, Leo and Diane Dillon, Joel-Peter Witkin. I could go on and on... I'm inspired by artists who are fearlessly truthful in revealing themselves with their work and artists who attempt to free themselves from all constraints and limitations.
What's the art scene like in Philadelphia where you hale from?
Pretty conservative from what I can see and what I've been told, at least in the gallery world, and I'm not really aware of any substantial alternative or underground scene. I would probably fare much better in New York or LA, but since I have a 9-year old son, I'm not going anywhere at the moment. I am starting to ship my work out to shows in other parts of the country, and of course I continue to seek appropriate illustration opportunities.
Do you exhibit internationally? And are you exhibiting at the moment?
Nothing international as of yet. I do have a piece in a show called Beaux & Eros at the Peninsula Museum of Art in northern California. That's running from now through the end of April. In March, I'm going to have a piece in a show called Everything but the Kitschen Sync at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in LA. And I'm supposed to have work in a show on American surrealism at the Saginaw Museum of Art in 2008 along with people like Alex Gray.
How did you find out about FMCS?
Through my internet friend, the artist and designer Danny Glix.
Any last comments?
Thanks very much for your interest in my work and for this opportunity to share a bit more of myself with the world (or a small portion of it at any rate).
Thank You David