We are coming to appreciate beauty as a revelation
of problems rightly solved... A visible rightness.
- Walter Dorwin Teague, 1936
I paint heroic portraits of technology. I arrange 20th and 21st century machinery in formal compositions, appropriating the tradition of royal portraiture to evoke the power that machines command in human society today. Like royal portrayals of noble ancestry, my portraits conceptually trace the lineage of 21st century robotics and artificial intelligence back to the steam-powered mechanisms of the Industrial Revolution and the electrification of factories and cities. My paintings reveal an historical continuum, paying tribute to the innovations of James Watt and Nicola Tesla, while also recognizing humanity’s legitimate fears of automation. These machines are preemptively posing for their place in museums of the future, provoking us to preemptively consider the trajectory they embody.
Radar Sisters 48 x 48 inch oil / 2018 Residency aboard USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier
I define myself primarily as a portrait painter, schooled in the European figurative tradition. My aim is to deploy this old-fashioned training in contemporary terms, while also referencing the legacy of 20th century avant-garde movements such as Futurism and Precisionism. I am working to create a hybrid idiom that relates the grandeur of oil on canvas to the radicalism of machine vision. Both humans and machines may ultimately look at these pictures as representations of the past. I want to serve both hypothetical viewers. I also want to evoke these potential future audiences as context for present-day viewing.
Duchess 30 x 30 inch oil / 2017 Residency at Wrightspeed Powertrains
In my paintings, I treat each machine as an individual. I consider my subjects to be noble and beautiful. They are manifestations of parsimonious engineering, form following function. However I do not look at a machine only in terms of the task for which it was made, but also consider its role as an actor on the broader technological stage. In this framing, all machines are important, whether or not they were the first of their kind or led to the next stage of progress. They are all related, and their most profound impact on society is collective. Although my portraits are heroic, they intentionally subvert conventional heroic narratives in order to represent the way in which machines truly operate.
Yutta / 2018 Waymo
Portraiture is notable for the fact that the genre has focused attention on the central figures of every era, from the aristocracy to the merchant class to celebrities. Today formal portraits can provide a means for people to look at machines in relation to themselves. As much as I strive to engage the history of painting, I am equally determined to enlist painting as a mechanism for societal reckoning.