Please accept my portfolio for your consideration as a candidate for your MFA in Visual Arts program in drawing and painting. I selected works from 2019 to the present, but the majority are from the last two years. My goal is to demonstrate to reviewers my technical skills, artistic voice, thematic and conceptual thinking, and my ability to produce multiple visual solutions.
By scrolling down, you will find I have organized my portfolio to highlight my hybrid work and observation works as well. In the first section, you will first see a drawing/painting followed by a paired poem. I often pair one of my works of art with a poem I have written. These works of art are viewed side by side in a gallery space, book, or art/ literary journal. Using both written and visual forms, I engage others by incorporating not only what is given to us by the senses but also poetic images and rhythms arising from my subject matter.
Many of my paired artworks and poems have been published as hybrid works. I juxtapose the written word and visual artwork to highlight multiple aspects of the paradoxical relationships found in my personal, material, social, and spiritual worlds. For instance, I recently completed a manuscript of poems and artworks entitled Iterations of the Boy, which is about the psychological and spiritual trauma of a young boy. I include below selected paired works from that book. In it, I weave artworks and poems into a coherent narrative. The paintings and poems give the heavy subject matter of abuse multi-dimensionality. This powerful synergy of word and visual image activates and affirms deep emotional connections on an interstitial level that might not otherwise be achieved.
After that section is a slideshow of images of observational works that you may stop for viewing.
Labels for all work include title, year completed, medium, dimensions (WxH), and publication details, if applicable.
What else? I am an interdisciplinary visual artist and poet focusing primarily on drawing/painting with an intra-disciplinary interest in graphic design, new media, and narrative forms. I was a senior lecturer of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. You can review my CV/RESUME here.
Work in process. Hybrid poems and artworks are only a portion of my creative efforts. I'm working on a series of paintings on sentient artificial life that we might encounter in the future. My work explores how they might interface with humans and our response to them. The paintings also address "humanhood," evolution, identity, justice, and rights. I draw on my advanced education in philosophy, ethics, and humanities to explore these issues in my art. See my ONLINE ART GALLERY here
My openness to feedback and critique has been a valuable part of my life and advanced learning, particularly in graduate-level creative workshops and seminars. Mentors are equally important sources of learning to me. I welcome critique and feedback as necessary elements of my growth and learning.
“Put your hand on top of mine.
Swear, us together.
Swear…never, ever, ever – never to tell! Promise never to tell!”
I promise, Peter.
“If you tell you will die a horrible, terrible death.
Satan will eat your soul.
Give me your index finger.”
He pricked it with a needle.
He pricked his own.
“When we mix our blood we become blood brothers
bound to each other, keeping our secrets.”
His zipper slid down.
I did, but did not want to.
“Little cry baby.”
Published in Heart of the Flesh Literary Journal. V. 1. June 2019.
Late in the day, in the bathroom, the peeling
and cracking paint on the window sill mirrors
the withering sky that pours down, beating against
the glass, speaking through the back of its throat.
Stretching and straightening my boyish body
in the lukewarm water, I crease my eyelids,
erasing what little light there is left in the world,
taking a deep breath, saving it as I float
with effortless suspension with my ears
beneath the murky water like I am floating
in Big Lake rubbing sight and sound
from the world, hearing only the vibrations
of water trickle out the overflow drain, and
the stopper chain scraping along the bottom,
forgetting my body, floating in absence, sensing
Mama’s sweet song arriving from some distance.
Published in Jesus the Imagination, A Journal of Spiritual Revolution. Hybrid works. Back cover art. Angelica Press. Volume 3. May 2019.
The starlings swim against the wind.
All of them together, synchronous, apparent order
within disorder, seeming contradictions,
a mathematical problem solved by
an algorithm, followed by calculations,
the common divisor, an infinite sequence of terms,
neither adhering nor contained within brackets.
I thought that God gave us a name for these things,
but not this, not the myth of their wings,
held in the rhythms of a living brain split open,
bare and exposed to the air, pulsating,
beating like a heart, even breathing,
held by the order of a line in a poem
or song, one that is coddled by gravity,
which keeps each thing in its place:
the ebb and pull of the earth,
the incline and turn of the mind
and its tendency to hold an idea,
to listen to the footsteps
and the dust left as a reminder,
a prayer for the living and the dead.
The myth of song slows the heart,
setting like the hibernating sun, lifting dusk,
the orange glow as it too falls,
leaving the night behind.
Water drops are beads of sweat
all about Dad’s face. The beads
around his eyes look like tears, but
that can’t be right because
I never once saw my dad cry, shed
tears, or any man cry for that matter.
Are you crying, Dad? I wondered.
Do boys reach a certain age
and then the body changes and shuts off the water?
Girls cry, are weak, and boys are strong,
though women say a good cry is good.
Is that how we are different, besides
the other things? Never have I seen a man
cry: not Dad, not Grandfather, not Peter, not
John Wayne, not Randy Savage, not Hulk
Holgan, and definitely not Clint Eastwood.
Jesus wept once in the shortest
verse in the Bible, though he didn’t
even cry on the cross despite such pain.
I wonder if God cries in his disappointment?
Mama cries all the time; Grandma cries,
too; Mrs. Reed cries; Renee cries; I used
to cry—until I got a little hair under
my arm pits and I stopped crying—
I cry no more, no crying. I think God
must have made us different for his
own reasons that I do not understand.
Peter says girls are crybabies, and boys
are tough like leather, though the boys
who do cry are little girls crying.
When Dad beats me with the belt he gets
mad when I cry and threatens to beat me
with the buckle even worse; so I stop
crying—I used to cry, but I have held
it in so it has gotten easier not to cry
so now I have forgotten how to cry.
Why do we cry anyway?
Why did God make us this way?
Do we fill up with water like a trough
then overflow, crying? Where does the
water go for men? I got a lump in my throat
when I used to cry. I cried when I cut
my leg and cried when I didn’t get my way; I
cried out of fear in the lonely night,
cried when Peter beat me up, I
cried when I was angry, but I don’t
cry anymore. I am not quite old enough
to shut it off completely on my own.
When I do cry, I go behind the barn so
not even the sheep can see me cry.
I am told that I am too old
to cry as there is no use for it.
There are different words for dirt:
one for the still dry earth,
the furrows neatly made by the plow in the field,
not yet wet and made mud.
and one for the dirt
from hands soiled by
the dignity of hard work.
and one for the manure
still stewing in the stable.
But nothing for straying, stained hands,
not yet washed
of their iniquities.
and nothing to name
the uncertainty of a memory
stripped of flesh and bone,
like the hog hanging
in the slaughterhouse
draining of blood.
and nothing for the hands
that dig deep inside, breaking
the bone, the marrow spilling
out like a broken soul.
and nothing for his mean eyes
and steady grin that tears open
a soul so he can smell the ghost inside.
The sun crosses the fields,
breathing light within fire,
forcing my hurting eyes, sensitive
to decaying stories, visions—
the bat within the rat hiding in the barn,
the crow within the dove atop the church steeple,
the tension and union.
My bowl overflows with dirt,
bloodless meat, and dead perfume,
yet I am not so broken
that I am unable to see rainbows
or halos or spider webs floating in the air
in the mist of a sun-filled rain,
my cup filling up with flames,
folly, bright rage, and
light bouncing off my swollen eyes.
She lies with her head on the couch propping
it up with a pillow, tossing her slender hair, splayed
like nerves, a million points on her head over the arm.
I start to brush through the thicket with the grain—
the ends first, gentle like she taught me, carefully teasing
them out so not to stir up her aching tangled inside.
She cares for her hair and teaches me to care too.
When we started, she aimlessly stared at the ceiling,
perhaps studying the cracks until her eyelids softly folded.
Her eyes beneath her lids quiver like two bow strings.
She breaths freely and is trance-like.
I watch her move from this world to the other.
Her shadow disappears, revealing the secret of light,
a rusty pearl, and the songbird. I brush, noticing her
narrow lips, the line of her nose and jawbone; her thinness,
how her face comes together without even a flaw.
She is not dirt, not stone, not rock bone, not ash, not dust,
not grave, but a soft plum given of its time.
The mild moon rises slowly out from inside her
to rest on her forehead. The straightened wind wanders
in through the open window whisking up her hair.
Her hunger for loving attention is disguised in there.
Published in The Headlight Review. Hybrid artwork/poem featured on homepage. Kennesaw State University. October 2022.
that runs akross the sky,
that I color real good,
rite nice betwene lines,
and make color full rain bows
with Charly Hoarse at my side.
I wysh upon a star
that does not have its cloths on,
to have the strong blue
jays wings with fyre
that risez as it flyes.
I wish this all to keep
me synging till I dye.
The wind rises, lifting the whirling leaves
and with it, the crow and starling near the barn;
the horse, though, sinks deeper in the mud,
soaking, a basin of carved bone, shivering as the rain falls
from the graphite sky.
The boy watches from his window,
the raindrops form spider webs that entangle him,
droplets as lenses and upside-down images
and concave shapes that
distort the barn, trees, grass, and fence.
The rain cannot wash away the mud
or lift the horse from it.
The worms squirm and the boy is filled with shame.
The sky makes the chaotic droplets darker
and more defined, his fingerprints
are evidence that he has spent much time there,
indifferent, watching, fooled by his focus, glazing
like a camera, his inner eye,
the beautiful simplicity, the
enduring moment, an admission of sorts
of suffering and endurance,
an awakening from the daydream,
hypnotized by the patter on the glass.
The worms crawl, the cold miseries,
no comfort from a friend; he weeps,
but does not cry because he is ashamed.
This rain is not of a cloud but an anvil,
an unrelenting cruelty amplified
by the rain, turning to blood.
His tearless pain cannot wash this away.
Though the rain, there is no bursting of a desert flower.
The boy behind the window, his figure,
barely visible, raises his whitewashed wings,
though dark and heavy from the rain –
too much, the palpable sadness of things,
unable to take flight.
What I desire in a nightmare
is to escape, to break it,
separate the parts, to
reduce it to fragments, to
shatter it like crystal, shards,
to breathe easy, to forget,
to clear away the darkness
under the dense trees,
to see the sun seep through
the spaces to gather memories
that I think will make me whole,
to travel great distances,
to a destination that is my own.
What I desire in a nightmare
is for the morning to break
through the night, to break
the spell cooked by the cackling witch,
to step out of my bed,
to open the curtain
to enter the healing light.
Published in Jesus the Imagination, A Journal of Spiritual Revolution. Angelica Press. Hybrid work. Volume.3. May 2019.
A shape that I am unable to recognize due
to her aura of vulnerability,
her paradox of loving devotion and dispassionate love,
she draws open the curtains
and the bones of her face emerge, her faint palpitations,
– the smell of her cold heart –
deceit, her need for the lyric, the need for her soul’s fence mending.
She is generous in sharing the scraps of meat easily torn from her flesh.
I get out of my bed to stand next to her.
She stares at the image of herself reflected in the window.
My silent, damned soul, watches, still sealed
under the covers, within the echoes,
blotting out the power of penetration
and a genealogy of snagged and tarnished memories,
unable to measure the depth of the sounding line:
how I feel next to her staring down at my frost-like foundered horse,
still standing, anchored, aching, unmovable in the frozen mud.
Published in The Headlight Review. Hybrid artwork/poem featured on homepage. Kennesaw State University. October 2022.
I took my black Crayola
and made an outline of Jesus.
Grain silos stretched high,
scratching a deep blue sky.
Charlie Horse was stuck in the mud.
I then took the red one and drew my dad,
I stuck a knife in his head.
A red river flowed from it all the way to the end of the page.
Peter lay on the couch. Mama said he was a thief.
The Lord’s cross was placed between them.
Peter was one of the thieves next to Jesus,
the one on the right hand, mocking Him.
He did not keep his cup clean,
rather he was a grape gatherer who did not share his crop,
he stole the ox and sheep,
his hands were unclean.
Her message for salvation was the arm of the oak.
He wanted nothing to do with repentance or salvation
and instead chose death over life;
he rebuked her as the arm of the oak fell on his head.
She was giving a lesson.
He laughed at her.
She attacked him.
They fell to the floor, entangled.
She swung hard and it came down on his head again.
He screamed bloody murder.
He begged, along with me, for her to stop,
but she kept going until Peter bled,
drops of it fell on her white robe.
Then Jesus said to her,
“Put your sword back into its place.”
But Mama sharpened her plowshare,
her pickaxe, her mattock, and her sickle.
But if the sun has risen, there is guilt for both.
He would be sold like the sheep,
bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Let her swallow what is left of his soul.
He stole the water and the bread
but he has no intention to repent,
violating the law of love.
He did not want God's mercy.
He cannot turn back the clock.
She snared him in her trap, like a rat
and plunged him into ruin.
For hatred is the source of evil,
no righteousness, godliness, faith, and love.
For Mama, Peter was a labor of love
or hate, as paradoxical as they are.
For him though, he did not know
where to place the comma and
could not recognize the end of a sentence.
He had entered the sheep pen
not by the gate, but climbed
over the fence the easy way.
She told him to repent.
He said, “Over my dead body!”
I stand at my window
watching the yellow flickering flames
that climb their way out of the openings of the barn,
lift up the scarlet darkness,
like in a silent film.
Flames pour out the barnyard door,
thick, billowing smoke flows, escapes
from the silence, masking emptiness inside.
She offers a breath to fuel it,
a releasing of sorts,
her flesh simmering like the hay and manure,
and bleeding like the barn boards.
The crying train rocks the house
and bends into the flames like old pain.
Mama stands near the gate, in her white, blood-stained robe,
holding a gasoline can, looking on,
another version of herself, copper dipped in vinegar,
though her face is drained of blood.
God’s fingers did not light this fire,
it was not His creation,
but He was implicit in the night,
an eternal sadness was inside there,
vanishing like thawing snow.
She looks golden against the flames,
her wounded skin, torn flesh, ashen bone,
a shape-shifter, her wings flap
though she does not take flight,
too heavy from her sins and grief
that she could not gloss over,
but too haunted by the space she filled,
another version of herself, cold, rusted steel,
standing beneath a sky, a ceiling.
I walk past my dad who is in the living room
sleeping in his chair oblivious,
though marked by sin and not caring.
I walk outside across the frozen mud
to stand next to her near the gate.
The sky is brilliant, lit up by the embers
creating its own magical constellations.
Against the fire, Mama looks full of light,
yet her eyes are vacant and mimic the fire,
mimicking the cries of her lost son and his ghost.
A single tear slowly falls down her cheek
as a result of gravity.
In animal silence, the aching horse is still in the mud,
leaving no tracks of his own, but clearly
seeing the absurdity in the image of the flames.
In starlit silence, the crow and the dove, smoke and rain,
take flight, dark and fading in the coal-black distance,
flying to a tree to bleed, songless and dreamless, now unable
to mend their nests they had built in the barn.
Nothing falls off her tongue.
She bleeds through the inferno.
Everything vanishes, melting away with the night.
Mama reaches out her tremoring hand to hold mine,
her fingers like spines, the moon stroking her brittle bones,
her pulse faint against mine.
Her tight lips quiver and the muscles in her neck and face
force her painful smile that I recognize as my own.
I woke in the middle of a rain storm
and a flash of lightning flickered
and the thunder rumbled through me.
After a long time, I got up and walked down
the hallway and opened the door to Peter’s room.
I lay in his bed where his warm body once slept,
imagining it was him.
I shut my eyes, blindly staring into unseeable
darkness so familiar to me.
I searched for him there.
Slowly, the void deepened, beyond
black, gradiating into a blinding bright white
which became a soft and pleasing hue of blue,
a sudden and momentary flash of light
like the luster of a smooth, white pearl,
and there before me was plush green
grass and a row of oak trees that reached
the river’s edge.
It was pleasantly warm there, a slight
breeze blew a gift of transformation,
from human to swan, from fish to flower,
married to the heavens,
gravity momentarily holding them there.
They dug fetid mud with their skinless hands,
dripping between their fingers.
From across the glass-like river
there were many children playing
along the bank in a clearing,
forming a ring around their warped ghosts,
stripped of flesh, bone, and
justice, the taste of strawberries
just picked from the field,
the lost flavor of unpaid bills,
no quickening of healing
of their lost flesh and tangled hair,
no longer immersed in their rage,
but not yet pardoned for their deeds.
Near the largest and sturdiest oak
some of them were swimming.
There were no grown-ups there.
Waves of laughter, splashes, and joyful screams
mixed in with the slow movement
of the river and the rustle of leaves.
I watched them from a distance
from behind the faraway oak,
wishing to play with them.
It was a scene that was not mine,
and I sat down on the ground
amidst the fallen autumn leaves.
I watched and wept, waiting for an invitation
to join in with them; but none came, so I
lay down between two exposed roots
of the wrinkled oak and watched their dirty faces
and the tiny opening in the passing clouds.
I later woke and they were next to me,
their shape-shifting eyes
and ashen skin, yarn unravelled,
standing together, holding hands,
their spirits burning in the day,
kinship of the dead.
I had no sense of their coming.
I felt no fear, no shame.
Then from behind the ring of
my brother Peter stepped through.
He held out his hand and I took his.
I stroked his bone gouged by meanness.
I knew you’d be here, I said.
He said, Mama and Dad was wrong about me.
We ain’t born bad.
We ain’t bad.
I ain’t bad.
I was bad for good reasons.
They tied the rope and watched me die.
Peter was no longer a baroque pearl.
He let go of my hand and walked around me;
hovering in place like a humming bird.
I came to play with ya’.
Do ya’ guys wanna play?
I looked at the other children,
and their faces fell to the ground.
Ya’ got to go back home, he told me.
I don’t want to go home.
Let me dwell in this place with the wrecks,
where the sun brightens the fields
and the birdsong sings where
day and night have no beginning or end.
Peter and the children turned to walk
the path leading down to the river.
I tried to walk with them, too;
but as I stepped onto the path
I had no sense of my going, my belonging,
as the night fell and their souls swam up river,
leaving me to smell the fish,
taste salt, and blood all the way into the unending night
where my prayers go unanswered.
Tremont River, TN (2022). Pastel pencils and chalk. 24x16.
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