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‘in the lab’ is a group of works exploring a range of materials and the tensions that exist among them according to their placement – adjacent to one another, layered, mixed together, or simply sitting in proximity. If the work feels disparate, perhaps it is: from minimal fields of texture and material to gestural layers of complex mixtures to unadorned, found objects. But this is how a lab works. You experiment. You discover. And you follow those results.

When I arrived to El Sur I thought of myself as a painter, a painter working with beeswax, ash, and oils. During the residency I wanted to focus on materials and materiality. I planned on making paintings with concrete, tar, plaster, ash, urethane, rust, and wax. What could I do with those materials? What could those materials do? I wanted to test ideas of texture, color, layering, and mixing. El Sur was going to be a lab for materials.

Once I began working I found unexpected results. Something was happening beyond painting. Tensions arose between the materials. As I worked on the floor, on the wall, and outside, with piles and buckets of materials, tensions arose between the materials, the space, and me. This led to more questions: What do these materials say? What expressive power do they have beyond how they look and how they behave? What about the spaces the materials occupy and the spaces between? Is this work a painting or an object? Do I leave it on the ground or hang it on the wall? What about the objects and materials I found in the yard and in the street and felt compelled to bring to the studio–what are they? If I am no longer just painting, what am I doing?

We often think of laboratories as places where we go to find answers, but they are also places where we find questions. Often, the answers to our original questions yield new questions, ones we did not even know to ask. For me this residency has been about questions leading to answers leading to questions.

Residency Results: I can no longer merely paint. Using these current materials, and others I’m sure to discover, I must follow the questions of materials and materiality, of objecthood and space. I must follow the questions of my relationship to materials, my relationship to space, and as well, my relationship to art.

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