I painted this canvas when I was fifteen years old in Art 2 at Piedmont High School in Union County, North Carolina.
We were asked to create a psychological self portrait and to use imagery about our current selves to tell our inner story. I worked on it everyday for two weeks and during that time, painted it over almost each day, growing ever more frustrated by the process. I didn't know what and how to represent the manic state of becoming I was experiencing. From reading about Taoism to watching my grandfather get sick and die, it was a time of heaviness and shifting that left me without a sense of an anchor.
On the day before we were to turn the project in and critique with the group, one of my classmates suggested that I take the canvas to the sink and wash away the layers. So, I did. I scrubbed so hard in some spots, that a hole was torn into the bare canvas.
Each layer was still present to an extent and the panic of how to visually explain the me of that moment in time was dissolved during that washing.
I remember feeling satisfied, almost euphoric about this solution to the assignment. There was something about the process of using water to wash away parts of built up layers that felt true to me, like this was the way it was meant to be.
The painter I am now was born that day. The particular abstracted style, painterly technique, layered process and finished works are all informed by this first canvas painting.
I went up in the attic today to find it and spent some time just looking again at my own "amateur" work that now I recognize as one of the most honest things I've ever made.