I grew up next too an old abandon train yard. The foundations of buildings, long since demolished, still exist as huge stone slabs with twenty-foot maple and evergreen trees shooting up through the cracks. Like in that poem "The rose that grew from concrete." This place was a utopia for childhood mischief. The sun-bleached beer cans and cigarette butts we stole from our parents' are still there littering the landscape. Nearby was an old, rusty crane used for loading railroad ties into the cargo holds of the train cars. We had looped a rope around the massive hook and tied a tire to the end of it. Every so often a train would roll by, and we would moon the conductor and throw rocks at the train. Some of the braver boys, myself included, would run along side the train, grab the ladder, and if the train was moving slow enough hop on to ride for a few seconds then jump off. I still have a whole drawer full of flattened pennies, dimes, and quarters. My pirate booty. Just a little ways from the clearing of the yard, the fort we built using found wood and creek rock is still standing. Not bad craftsmanship for six intercity kids. Not a hundred yards south was the bridge. A rusted mass of steel half a football field long, that towered sixty feet above the lickin river. I remember stealing a kid's bike and tossing it over, just to see it splash in the water below. But old tires and cinder blocks, in there abundance, were our favorite thing to throw over. We spent entire summers here doing nothing. Making up our own adventures, like a modern day Tom and Huck.
This place has become my inspiration. With most of my childhood friends succumbing to heavy drug use and/or jail, it is just me here, ten years later, using our Neverland as a place to ponder. As a place to get away from the demons that are calling my name. The same demons that my friends had listen to. This is the place where I feel safe. The train tracks are a metaphor I use for the heredity of addiction. A train cannot turn off it's path. It is forced to follow the tracks that have been laid out for it. The individual tracks act as my veins and the rhythm of the passing train is my pulse.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Artistic Spirit and Spirits? I chose this title because my inspiration comes from spirits. Spirits - meaning alcohol. My father is a severe alcoholic and has been all my life. I have become so obsessed with this aspect of my life that some would consider it unhealthy.
Some families’ skeletons are in the closet. My family’s skeletons were buried in the front yard, right out in the open for anyone to discover, but no one so much as hinted to us that they knew. To create my artwork, I go out to my front yard with a shovel and I start digging up the bones. I examine these things, these secret events that occurred in my past and continue to occur today. I start reliving them as I dig deeper into the ground. The hole that I am digging is not a place of dreams or fantasy; it is quite real to me. As I apply these “bones” to canvas or paper, the pain that used to occur gets a little easier to deal with, although it will never disappear completely. Art is powerful emotion recollected in agitation. I can’t completely let go of these secrets, so they eat at me and eat at me until I come to a breaking point. I feel like I was baptized in a river of whiskey, and the stench, to this day, is still oozing out of my pores. The images of my father’s addiction are carved into the back of my skull, and it has poisoned my thoughts to a point where it is impossible to go a day without thinking of it. I am haunted by the reality of it all. It is at these points, these “breaking points,” where the idea for a new work reveals itself.