When I was born, my dad gave me the name Cedric, hoping that I might be a playwright. At a young age, my dad used to read me short stories by Dostoevsky. My parents told me that I used to get angry during Dostoevsky-time and throw books across the room. I think this was my first rejection towards fiction. When I was in the 4th grade, unbeknownst to me, my teacher was going to fail me because she thought that I was unable to read. I remember going on a family trip to South Dakota and reading the road signs out loud as we drove by. A surprise to my parents because they also thought that I couldn’t read. When asked by my teachers why my reading grades were so bad, I replied: “I don’t want to read the stupid frog books”. While Frog and Toad Together and Fox with Socks appealed to the average 4th grader, I preferred checking out informational books like How to Draw or How to Fold Origami or textbooks about insects. Even as a child I was a curious explorer.
Things did not really change in my adult life. I remember purchasing my first iPad and using it to read/download philosophy books. What kind of nerd buys an iPad to download public domain books, like Thomas Hobbes and Plato, to read them between class periods? This same iPad was later stolen and I remember getting an email from the Apple store saying “Thank you for purchasing Angry Birds” – this about sums up humanity, an iPad is one of the most technologically advanced informational tools in existence, and people use it to play bird games.
I bought my first camera as a way to take pictures of my paintings to sell on eBay during high-school. Photography eventually became a coping mechanism, a way for me to fight my social anxiety. I used to ‘hide’ behind my camera. After I purchased my first professional grade camera, my camera went everywhere that I did. This way I would have a purpose for being somewhere because I was doing something productive. If anyone asked what my rates were I would politely tell them that I would gladly work for beer. My Saturday night bar hopping adventures usually involved me taking photos of beer glasses and pool tables, candid shots of locals. Nearly every social situation involved me taking pictures of the oddest things and people. People used to ask me what I ‘do’ with all my photographs; to an outsider, the concept of taking photos non-stop seemed sort of ‘weird’ and looking back it definitely was. Sometimes I would tell the truth — I mostly just delete them. I do not have the disk space to save hundreds of photos. At the start of my photographic experience, I would only take a decent photograph by accident, so deleting them became second nature. Other times I would sarcastically tell people that “I build a shrine out of them”. Questions from strangers about why I took hundreds of photos of useless things were redundant. I didn’t take photos for some purpose, like shrine building or an art project. I took photos as a way to provide me with a purpose when I went outside, like a pseudo-volunteer-job. My therapist said that this was called a “safety behavior”. Simultaneously, I was never truly ‘included’ in these social interactions. My photographic process became a way to ‘study’ the real world. I never saw myself as a photographer, but as a scientist taking notes. I couldn’t even go to a concert without my camera. Eventually, people noticed my photography and started paying me with money instead of beer. After a few years of event photography, I became an adept photographer.
I remember being coerced into going to a Riot Fest concert with one of my co-workers around my 25th birthday. I didn’t have my camera with me to distract me, so when I lost my co-worker and I found myself alone with nothing to do. It was at this point that I realized what “fun” meant. I remember being so excited that evening that when I got home I had to explain it to my brother. “Fun” is the social situation of standing around drinking with your ‘friends’ and not doing anything productive at all; or more to the point, fun is not doing anything productive at all.
What I love about reality is that you don’t have to imagine the ridiculous, often it already exists. I believe that art should be a subjective experience and that the motifs that I place within my artwork should only start the conversation.
I think I paint realistically because I want to show people the world that I see through my lens.