Ben I’d like to start this interview asking you to explain me why you define your art as a collision? Your works are characterized by strong contrasts in materials and symbols, isn’t it?
My work is able to operate in 3 different worlds…fine art, crafting, and the counter culture scene.
I am influenced by and reference material found in vintage tattoos, the occult, folklore, mythology, military patches, gang insignias and motorcycle clubs.
The viewer is assaulted with imagery of soaring eagles, charging tigers, whips and chains.
Art and Function fused together in one piece creates a dynamic experience for the viewer.
Textiles has allowed to push my art past being just a precious object hanging on the wall to becoming the perfect fusion of Art, Fashion, and especially Function. By stitching donated fabrics into a unified piece the quilts are able to display a multitude of personal histories.
Everyone’s unexplained stain, tear, or rip will be included and when displayed visitors will be able to see a piece of themselves woven into this larger history.
A collection of memories, dreams, and past experiences will be on view in the form of a functional quilt.
The inspiration for your art comes largely from punk rock culture; it must have characterized your personal and artistic education in a fundamental way, tell me more about this.
I grew up in the 1990’s Atlanta, Georgia punk rock scene and was introduced early on to the concept on Do It Yourself.
This mentality has followed me through my teenage years and into adulthood. Basically, don’t ever let anything hinder you from seeing your ideas through to the end.
When I began sewing I had no idea what I was doing…simply a concept I wanted to create.
What are the other sources of inspiration for your art? The city where you live, San Francisco, is itself a source of inspiration for your work?
My early influences come from the puck rock, heavy metal, and skateboard community. Looking at band flyers and skateboard deck designs lead me to draw and paint while in high school.
I began to transition to textile based work in graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. While in graduate school (2005-2007). I was slowly learning how to use the sewing machine via trial and error.
Mistakes are a large part of my artistic process.
I decided to push the boundaries of my art and attempt to make a quilt after seeing the Gees Bend exhibition at the de Young Museum (San Francisco) in 2006.
This first quilt would contain my collection of Heavy Metal band shirts. For years, I had amassed a large pile of torn up and threadbare band shirts that I could never throw away.
It’s not cool when your Slayer shirt turns to mesh. Ha! From there my work has progressed to include all types of material such as donated/ recycled fabric, denim, and leather.
Also the Moto culture is inspiring for your works, how and in what way does it influence your art?
I am influenced by the imagery, fashion, culture, and attitude associated with motorcycle clubs.
Fabrics research is a fundamental aspect of your artistic process, briefly explain me the main stages in the realization of an artwork.
Everything I do begins with some amount of research into a particular topic or interest.
I will come up with a general idea in my sketchbook by taking notes and doing some quick drawings to work out my idea.
From there I move the design into Photoshop or Illustrator and refine the design to its final size.
The next step involves cutting all the shirts / denim / leather into pre-determined shapes that fit into the overall design much like a puzzle.
Finally, I sew all the pieces together with the quilting stitch that holds all 3 layers of the quilt together.
What or who made you become an artist?
From an early age, I have always been interested in making things which eventually lead me into art.
Can you remember your first artistic influences?
Anything related to skateboarding!
Which artists do you admire today?
Lari Pittman, Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, AJ Fosik, Cleon Peterson, Richard Colman, Kevin E. Taylor, Lucien Shapiro, Erin M. Riley, Megan Gorham, Isiah Toothtaker, Dennis McNett, etc.
What would you say it’s your strongest skill?
I don’t stop…always working.
What are you passionate about besides your work?
Wife (Megan Gorham), Ted (our Norwegian Forest Cat), Teaching (I am Visiting Faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute).
What are you working on and what are your future projects?
-Limited editioned machine embroidered patch via Roger Gastman.
-Paris Art Fair with Hellion Gallery.
-Solo exhibition at Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University.
-Taubman Museum – Tangled: Fiber Art Now! August 5, 2017 – February 11, 2018.
-Gregg Museum – Grand Re-Opening August 26, 2017.
In the end, what is ART for you?
Expressing my thoughts and ideas in a functional visual form.