At a fundamental level, my paintings of bird nests address relationships. They are about our relationship with the natural world—so intrinsically a part of us—but they also speak to the subtle relational currents between people or families, often evoking deep and unexpectedly unearthed emotions. This work is about the boundaries we erect between ourselves and the wild, or between one human and another; the apparent separation between our daily lives and the natural world is largely one of choice, or of semantics.
I am passionate about the way the unexpected scale of these paintings—monumental images of something so small and plain—changes the viewer’s relationship to the subject. It’s partially about revealing unseen details, but at this scale it is difficult not to be mesmerized by the movement intrinsic in their construction. I want them to be captivating. The creation of this effect and the slow development of luminosity through layered glazes are both a project of working my way around the circular piece. As I work each nest, I picture the bird building it: moving around and around concentrically. It must have woven these sticks and grasses in a similar way. There is a kinship and a beauty in this emotional connection to the process of building and application.
Visually, but to some extent, also spiritually, everything about this pursuit is a search for balance. While attributes such as the number of eggs, the color of certain elements, or the overall tone of the piece are largely compositional, they also touch in a related way on something subtler, in the mood or tone. Does this nest feel more golden or more grey? Does it have a spark of color? Is it empty or filled with budding life? I make these choices intuitively, listening to the developing painting.
In a sense, I experience this as a working prayer, and sometimes a meditation. I often make these nests for someone specific, and consequently, they frequently come into my mind, and through prayer and creation, they end up woven into the piece. I enjoy both the outward reach—the way viewers see their individual journey, emotional growth, or transformation reflected back—and the inward, in the sense that this process is also for my understanding, my relationships, and my spirit.
My artwork is best classified as an offering: to God and to individuals, as a point of connection. It is always moving in the direction of personal growth.