Some people think home is supposed
to be a safe place, that domestic life is mundane. I like to look at the
pieces of that life, separated and inspected and transformed. Robert Gober
will take a kitchen sink and half bury it in the ground, and it will look
like a man’s chest or a gravestone. I love that. Or Rosemary Trockel
will, by knitting an image into a ski mask, elevate an apparently mundane
craft and give it some universal significance. I think it would be interesting
to paint a picture of some knitted object for that reason. Claes Oldenburg
took away the usefulness of a clothespin by making it a tower. He makes
it kind of absurd to think it’s still a clothespin, but what else
do you call it?
When I make a painting or a drawing I have to start somewhere. My idea
of a cup or your idea of a child isn’t really important in the end,
although it’s always where I start. The little girl is obviously
someone specific, and getting her likeness right is pretty important to
me, but what really matters is what the picture holds on its own, that
there is some movement. To me the image has qualities that are usually
categorized as adult: disheveled, unmanicured, a little burnt-out. If
a kid’s sucker actually reminds you of a woman’s nipple or
a liquid drop, then it has that motion I want.
I’ll use saturated color to shift something from its normal context,
and I’ll isolate it. Hockney did that. His colors are gorgeous,
and he’ll put his subjects deadpan, right there in the center of
the picture to say, “Here they are.” Nothing tricky.
I grew up in the white-bread suburbs of the east coast in the 70’s
and 80's. I was craving something, a different color, a different light.
And then on a trip to Arizona I got to see that southwest light, the orange
sun on the sidewalk, the big blue skies, the crazy house colors. The following
year I went to Chile to visit family. There were saturated colors everywhere
and in everything, the clothing, the pictures they hung on their walls,
the houses and furniture. I finally understood what color could be when
you give it permission. They didn’t do that in Maryland.