When I was growing up, my grandparents owned a restaurant; therefore, the kitchen was the physical center of our daily lives. I embraced this lifestyle and became an avid cook and baker. When I started painting, I naturally gravitated towards still life, especially foods that conjure memories. And what I have come to realize is that a kitchen in many ways reflects a studio; it is a place where things are made. I now find my studio to be in several places — oftentimes the kitchen.
For instance, one painting from the ‘Kitchen Stories’ series depicts breakfast supplies strewn about following the meal. The work’s title, ‘Broke’, references the fact that I was fairly poor at the time, but also my broken french press, as seen in the image. ‘Coconut cliff’ is a painting that captures my mother’s half-eaten birthday cake as it sits in the fridge. The ephemerality of daily life can gain permanence painting with oils. The convenience of a traveling easel it’s easy to set up wherever I feel the urge to paint.
Paint allows me to express emotions connected to cooking, eating, or simply being in the presence of memorable foods. The act of creating a painting allows me to quietly, consciously reflect on my daily life. While painting, my senses are heightened — I am able to smell more distinctly, see more clearly — and this precision can be visually captured in paint. In my work, I attempt to create visual onomatopoeia — the weighted density of frosting described with thick paint in full strokes; airy holes in a slice of bread described with thin wispy paint; a stark, distinguishing line explaining the metallic reflection of a toaster. Sometimes it feels as if the objects are actually underneath my brush and I am painting to reveal them, rather than creating images of them.
Color-mixing is integral to my practice and is best described as a form of centering. Similar to a potter whose clay must be centered on the wheel before the formation of the pot can begin, the act of mixing colors prepares me for my work, both physically and mentally. I have created a system that has allowed me to understand, organize and experiment with mixing colors, and through which I have discovered a palette that is distinctly my own.
Only after an image is painted do I understand the emotional truths surrounding the subject. For instance, ‘Mini Box’ references the cake I baked upon request for my young niece's birthday. The vulgar brush strokes and cheerful pink frosting exemplify the tension between my distaste for boxed cake-mixes and love for my niece. Making the painting was a way to reckon with this little moment and my relationship to it. My work is not only a celebration of the everyday but also a means of self-questioning: what do these subjects and moments really mean to me?
I work small-scale for two reasons. First, my surfaces — which range from three to twenty inches — are compact enough to travel with me and my easel. Secondly, the small surfaces directly correlate to privacy. They reference and reflect the intimacies of my life. Their smallness demands that they be viewed by only one person at a time, engaging a personal affinity with the object similar to what I feel for the subject.