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Why do you juxtapose these images of immigrants and mass shootings in your work?

In the paintings I’m juxtaposing these two different types of images because I am trying to abstract out a uniquely American cultural ethos defined by violence. I see that violence expressed in the same bodily gestures in these two very different circumstances, which strikes me as both odd and hard to understand but also something that makes perfect sense. Human trauma is human trauma. When I put these two types of different causal-drama experiences side by side the viewer is asked to question the source of that trauma and why I’m putting them together. The “moral of the story” is that they are connected, and so “What connects them?” This is the question that is asked through my work, and the answer is complex and uniquely American and also uniquely connected to the violent expansion of empire. I want the viewer to see these very similar bodily gestures and be drawn into an awareness of a fundamental and underlying American cultural code of profoundly violent terms. These are the same terms that founded this country, starting with slavery and genocide of native peoples. This violence has never left us. It defines us. Through all of our self-portrayals as a benign freedom seeking people, runs a deeply violent psychology that is perhaps not merely there coincidentally, as an unfortunate cost of so-called freedom. I want to bring this question up: Is American violence more than a side-trait or is it central to who we are? Is this a universal and human problem or a uniquely American one? Is this a problem of civilization itself? Of Western Civilization?

Why is being a Texas artist important to you?

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 r


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