For the past ten years, I have been researching contemporary applications of buon fresco, an ancient technique of painting onto fresh wet plaster. In essence, fresco is a method of making colored limestone. Although it has a long and distinguished history, particularly as an architectural feature, buon fresco’s use as a medium for contemporary expression is barely existent due to a number of reasons that include its extreme physical demands and the overall difficulty of the medium. The goal of my work is to push the traditional boundaries of buon fresco in ways that respect the medium’s history, but offers a “fresh” point of access for contemporary viewers.
In contrast to fresco’s traditional use, I apply color with an airbrush and create works that are portable, lightweight, and at times modular. I spray mists of pigment onto fresh plaster until figures emerge. The atomized dispersal of the figures intrigues me because it creates veiled subjects whose identities are not amplified nor fixed as is historically the case with buon frescoes. The images are indefinite and subtle.
My interest in the quieter technique of silverpoint drawing began while working on a large buon fresco mural at Van Meter Auditorium. Creating the mural was physically demanding and consisted of working 20 hour sessions with few breaks. Due to fatigue, it was necessary that I rest two days between sessions. Silverpoint drawing required little physical energy and became a respite during the fresco project. Similar to graphite drawing, silver leaves a faint mark when rubbed across a toothy surface. The metallic residue oxidizes over time and the drawings’ cool tones shift towards warmer hues. The medium of silverpoint resonates with me not only because of the history and rareness of the medium, but because of thematic commonalities with the larger body of my work. The apparent stillness of silverpoint is contradicted by continual oxidation. In both painting and drawing, the visual forms I create reflect my curiosity about appearances and their relation to ideas of knowing and being.