In 2003, I began the Crack Molecule while I was creating a line of handbags made from surfboard resin. After pouring the panels of the bag, I usually had leftover resin that I would discard. One day, I had just finished a new line and was walking around the studio with a container of left over resin wondering what could I resin and how this might translate into one of the pieces I was working on.
At the time, I was fascinated with things that keep us obsessed, and the word “crack-head” kept coming to mind. People use ‘crack’ to describe things like bacon, candy, shopping, sex, movies, all things people can be addicted to like ‘crack’, signaling a strong addiction to whatever it is they are addicted to.
Art is similar to crack for me and I am addicted to the process and the struggle.
I started the Crack Molecule to represent a passion that would not end until I did. Living is brief. How does one capture this brief moment spent on earth? In my twenties, I was hermetically private about my artwork. It was not so much a fear keeping me from putting myself out there, as it was total and utter disgust for what I was seeing which was the, ‘adulting’ process of a young man. It was this unease that kept me going, a sense of purpose maybe, even if no one saw this purpose, I saw purpose as a passion.
The Crack Molecule represents this passion, this persistence, this unwavering addiction, the addiction to creating a symbol, gesture, composition that gets all the meaning I give it. This creation in turn takes a small piece of my life, time, and soul. What I take from it is a giant sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment, the thirst has been quenched for the time being, but just like the Crack Molecule, their is another layer coming, another thirst to be quenched, another end in itself.
I would like to think of the Crack Molecule as infinite, but I will die and at some point, and then it will be finished, hopefully adding some light to the notion of being thoroughly intrinsically motivated and driven. The Crack Molecule is constantly changing and is constantly getting heavier and thicker as the resin grows with each new coat. The idea was to create a piece that is always in progress. This constant state of movement is pertinent to my work as an artist. I believe it is what it does, and work is an act that transcends the idea. The idea is nothing without the act. So this constant state of work acts as a buffer between the present and my next project, always linking me to the next idea through the act of working.
13 x 3 x 7 in (33 x 8 x 18 cm)
Acrylic ink, surfboard resin, on canvas
started in 2003
10 Limited edition prints of each new layer available on fujiflex mounted on dibon
This piece is the starting point for a lot of my work. It the is gateway into the addict’s mind. The addiction that never ends, it continues building on itself, manifesting in different forms, spaces and directions. The Crack Molecule is a painting on canvas, secured through 51 layers of resin and counting.
A map of my struggle to comprehend, and learn about time based understandings and matured gatherings of informational lineage. I set out to isolate problems I have with happenings in this world. As a young person out of control and uncontrolled by art school I started from the ground up, I found experience through paid travel, this early pursuit of work experiences as an artist instilled certain obsessions, one of these obsessions was an attempt to conceptualize and build my own artist assemblage, this collection of sorts would mark a learning phase in my early wanderings.
I started by sending letters to artists that were still living, then I started asking people who work for artists: curators, consultants, assistants, secretaries and at last, the overlooked art handlers, it took over 12 years to gather bits and pieces from anything connected to a specific artist’s work. Depending on the source, anything can be in the small box, from a piece of hair off of Eva Hesse to a screw anchor from Cindy Sherman photograph, these pieces are things, matter, atoms, these things are things, they just thing, no iconic or symbolic value. Matter as Matter, there is no artwork in these boxes, something more precious maybe, an essential piece of the whole. This system of things and stuff is broken down by value, and the pieces I attained on this journey have no value but the value I give them, because of their association to a great artist they are directly linked to a piece of highly coveted work, the work is not important, its the thing attached to the artist that is significant to me. This collection, through the process of acquiring the small pieces became a work in itself, a diary, maybe even a map for an emerging artist.
During my early twenties, I delved into the love affair between China and the West. This love affair has been a reoccurring theme throughout my earlier hermetically private work. Through visual banter I set out to open a dialog, not political, but world defining. China has affected me on many levels, beginning with my grandmother a WWII refugee Shanghai Jew. If not for China, she may not have made it out of Nazi occupied Vienna. I am also interested in how China has the ability to provide fast inexpensive products we really don’t need, but want. This notion of more and now is creating a new flat culture across the globe. The desires of the world market are now mirroring what we have enjoyed in the West, but Earth cannot give everyone what the West has enjoyed since there are finite resources. This notion of “excess” ironically inspires me to create “more.” I set out to create a painting that has different qualities. When I started the sketching phase of this piece I had Francisco Goya’s black paintings in my mind, specifically “Witches in the Air.” The witches are men devouring their victim, while the next victim lies under a sheet hiding from the inevitable. This inspired me to create my latest piece.
The fact that I use bright colors and the end result is usually something bright, maybe beautiful, does not mean I start or end at a happy place. The ‘throwing’ stars in this new painting are scattered with white circles. This piece is large, 84″ x 72″, and is painted on canvas that has been stretched to the wall. There are colored ‘throwing’ stars mounted in the wall, the stars are coated in Doost, a highly reflective glass dust made out of recycled glass tubes.
Each star has a red piece of yarn that hangs down to the floor where it is coiled up. I chose these materials because of the act of movement. The ‘throwing’ star is completely reserved for the type of movement I was looking for in this piece. Additionally, the reflective Doost coated stars pick up ambient light and appear to twinkle with the movement of the viewer. The stars are welded to 16-penny nails to keep them stable at different angles in the canvas since the angles would be impossible to achieve by throwing in a small space. This absurdity, if noticed, is my LOL moment, all angles as they say, even angles that don’t work, angles that fail.
Failure is how we move forward and this painting speaks to that failure. The process of making this painting was another exploration into reoccurring themes I have been working on. I enjoyed the problems I had during development of this piece. I had to scratch the whole piece twice, so it was expensive and time consuming to make. Figuring out how to mount the stars was quite a journey as it is hard to weld a nail to the tip of a ‘throwing’ star. I am currently working on a series of smaller pieces along the same lines, just different tones and smaller stars. I am satisfied with the end piece and now have a better understanding of the materials used. I’m anticipating applying this knowledge to the next series.