My work begins as an emotional response to my environment. I see imagery in the world around me that compels me to paint. The painting process is my way of expressing the beauty that I see every day.

I capture these images with my phone. Photography is akin to sketching for me, as I’m able to quickly reference moments that might become paintings. Back in my studio, I prepare wood panels for painting, and produce a drawing on the panel using the reference image. The paintings come together over time, with each painting consisting of many layers. The bottom layers often contain thick, opaque applications of paint, with the final layers being thin, transparent glazes. I spend a lot of time mixing paint, as color is one of the most important parts of my work. I use color to convey the emotions I felt when I saw the image, and the passion I feel when I paint.

I have been thinking of this body of work for many years, and the images have been compiled over time. The title of this body of work, “Shadows of Paradise,” loosely refers to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”

In the allegory, there is a group of prisoners who have lived in a cave their entire lives. They are bound with chains, so that they can only see a blank wall directly in front of them. Behind the prisoners, and out of their view, a fire burns, and people walk past the fire carrying objects that project shadows onto the wall. The prisoners see the different shapes, and delight in their knowledge of the forms, thinking the shadows are real objects. Eventually, a prisoner breaks free, and makes his way outside the cave. At first, he is blinded by the sun, but his eyes eventually adjust, and he learns that the forms from the cave are mere representations of actual objects. They are only shadows. Excited to share his newfound knowledge, he returns to the cave, but he is blinded again, this time by the darkness. The prisoners think the outside world has harmed him, and they disregard his words, happy to remain in the cave.

I feel like the prisoner who escaped in the allegory. Take my hand as we exit the cave. I want to show you the truth that lies behind the shadows.