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, loving, freedom seeking, benevolent, kind, humanity-saving people and nation, runs a deeply violent and traumatic way of being that is not merely there coincidentally. I want to bring this question up: Is this 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?
In the videos I'm doing something a bit different by juxtaposing immigrants with people shopping, usually Black Friday shopping or kids having a complete meltdown. The difference here is that I am bringing up a question about the violence of a society that turns our lives into a consumptive process where we actually have become comfortable describing ourselves as "consumers". The consumer mindset is, in my view, a deeply tragic and violent way of looking at the world, as if it was composed of possessions for my taking, and in order to get those "things" I need to make more money than the person beside me, and when I do, through my consumption I can show the world how much better I am. This is the capitalist-scarcity model and it is defined whole cloth by an underlying idea of the world as my playground, for my exploitation and this is deeply flawed. I see the child screaming at the border, abandoned and terrified and the child screaming for toys in the store as two children being terrorized by the same failed order.