There is a curious relationship between traveler and world. Upon one’s return, life resumes as normal, with only physical snapshots and tangible acquisitions to act as an anchor for these memories. But often, it’s not these specific moments that leave the lasting impact, it’s the incalculable less-defined ones that continue to gently inform our imagination and memory, while also shaping our cultural mores.
I wrote for an online travel guide for several years, covering many places I’d visited but also plenty I hadn’t. There was a certain amount of mental conjuring required for the latter- an analysis of photographs online, a perusal of extant travel guides, a knowledge of both history and current events. Having committed these imagined (albeit real) landscapes to type, those places came to occupy a special mental space between reality and imagination. My paintings - narrative abstracts- which were heavily influenced by this process, are both fantasies of places unseen as well as mental maps -a city of synapses and neural pathways - that provide a visual analogy of the process by which memories are stored and recalled. Using oil, ink, gouache, and pencil, these places have become a tangible snapshot of culture and context, a complex exploration of what is real, and what is made real by committing it to canvas. It also asks the question: where is the line between imagination and reality? At what point does the imagination’s figment, when made visible to others, become reality?