Despite or because of the season, I need to make a point of reflecting on false evidence appearing real. FEAR. I get emotional and forget that life is layered much like my artwork. It is a work in process and I’ve made a few mistakes. I’ve also made a few happy mistakes. 2018 is no different for me. I apply layers and scratch away removing to discover new elements. My life is play.
2018 I moved back to Mexico City DF further deepening my commitment to my artwork. I’ve really been pushing this year. I started, in the same manner, I had been working and pushed the scale. Very satisfying experiences came from taking that risk. And then I started to push the content. First, in Photoshop I allowed myself to do a bit more manipulation. I let go of the idea everything had to happen in the camera. It was keeping me from creating the compositions I wanted and I had to imply meaning on top of the surface. With Photoshop I pushed it further and crafted the narration in subtle ways. Then in June on a rainy day, I meandered around with my camera to discover the surfaces changing in that rain.
That’s when I started to carry a water bottle with me to spray the paper and allow colors from below to seep into the paper above. I couldn’t but help to touch the surface with my fingers and watch it disappear below and reappear in my camera. That slight need to touch became my new obsession. It took me several more months of observation to understand other opportunities awaited me. I began to pick little things away. Little things began to reveal themselves. I started to dream about what lay just below the surface. A curator said something to me about the faces appearing in my work. I began to catalog the work and look for patterns in my photos.
In November, during the worst moments of my adult life, I had a breakdown. I lost the sense of myself or became totally absorbed in pain. Years of fears poured over the edge of my emotions and I fell backward. Tumbling into a surreal existence, many of my barriers were stripped away. I was struggling to find my way with my new diagnosis of HIV. It was a profound moment where the fear circled back around from 1984 and sucker punched me. But if this was going to be “it”, then I was going to have to grow the balls to face what came next.
In the midst of this pain, I grasped for something, anything, anyone to give me context. It was in my artwork that I found my way back. I found those faces below the surface by removing layers above. I saw my stories of friends and strangers who came forward to support me in a moment when I was unable to stand up. They revealed to me how wrong my assumptions of loneliness as inevitable were. I’m not religious in any way. Somewhat spiritual only because it seems arrogant to believe I have any control over anything in this world. I began to look for the universe to show me a pathway. It was the angeles in my artwork and in my life that carried me through. I tore the paper from the surface of the walls. Constructed my reality from the scraps or advertisements I found.
Playing, constructing, deconstructing, and crafting the images in the street gave me a sense of possibilities for my life. I came to understand that even in the discarded garbage in the streets I could find beauty. I could find connections to people even if I was standing there all alone. I feel vulnerable standing there in front of those billboards pushing the materials with abandon. Sometimes I see people watching me play. Sometimes I turn to watch the police go by me slowly creeping around to ensure nothing serious is happening. “Nothing to see here officers. Just a crazy gringo working it out.”
And now? Well I took all those scraps back to the studio to play further. I don’t know where 2019 will take me, but I know it will show me everything I dreamt of if I show up for it. I am fucking scared to death. I am scared I will catch a cold before the medicines take me to undetectable. I am scared my friends will grow tired of the ups and downs. I am scared I will end up alone. But the fears have nothing on the reality of things. I am not alone. There are angels all around me. Some whisper amazing things to me while others spew pure insanity. They are all telling me what I need to hear in order to pick up my big bag of trashy trash and work my way through all this garbage in the studio.
I hope I get to make more art in 2019. I hope I get to connect even more with my friends and family in 2019. I hope all my dreams come true and they don’t kill me in the process. I am grateful for all my friends, family, and fans for showing me new ways to see this world.