I choose to work very specifically from Texas because Texas is the culmination point of all the extremes of American society. It is the ugliest of stages upon which the American drama unfolds.
Texas represents the last American psychological "frontier," a fictional mythology carved deep into the American psyche. This frontier fiction is defined by a fundamentally Anglo-European history of extreme xenophobia, fear of non-Anglos, an obsession with conquering new lands then immediately placing a border on them, excluding, extracting, enslaving, murdering, and ceaselessly demanding more for itself with no remorse. This is the real American "world-view", within which "he" is always the center of everything and yet always positioning "himself" as the victim of all as a justification for a zeitgeist of unhinged violence and fear; this latent fear is a ruse however, the Anglo-Texan psychology is rooted in being both wittingly and unwittingly exposed, the proverbial "dumb" Texan who knows no better and yet knows full well; this is the real American narrative, a pseudo-naivete behind the "freedom" script, behind which lies a calculated system in which we literally imprison those within the walls of our empire, enslaved by debt and burdened by a ceaseless drive towards consumption as resolution, while we terrorize those outside the walls in our endless hunger to expand beyond the last frontier, to justify our tireless hunger for supremacy over all other creatures, to assuage a profound underlying insecurity as it were; we are, as such, a society beseeched by border paranoia, ever feeling encroached upon and yet encroaching on all outside our walls with no remorse, "freedom fighters".
I choose to work very specifically from Texas because Texas is the culmination point of all the extremes of American society that we both celebrate and are, perhaps, most ashamed of, always the antagonist to refined culture, always the most crass, the most banal, the most wanting and yet somehow the most honest, the most "American". We don't have the glitz of Hollywood or the gravitas of NY or the shine and sparkle of Miami or the history of Chicago or Philadelphia. Our beaches are ugly and forgotten, our cities hot and scattered, and somehow capable of feeling both urban and suburban at the same time; our landscape is flat and deserted and fenced and littered in stripmalls. Texas is where the brutal truth of Americanism is fully exposed in the endless loops of freeway seemingly going nowhere with the feeling that we are headed towards the very last stop on the proverbial American road trip. Texas presents the final and darkest frontier of a deeply conflicted, often hypocritical, often racist and xenophobic, often self-loathing and fundamentally violent American social psychology and yet presents a strange sense of brutal optimism and potential, a sense that you will be left alone here, but the eerie sense that this may also not be what you want. I am looking at this complex and often difficult mythology head on as the start point for understanding the deeply troubled heartbeat of the American empire.
"I know now that he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil . . . " - Diego Rivera