Art making is a part of my daily existence and always has been. Both of my grandparents were artists and the smell of oil paint from my grandfather’s studio still lingers in my mind. I have spent the majority of my career as an artist educator and am currently teaching at Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown, PA. Prior to my position at RCCS, I spent four years developing the arts department and program at Brownsville Academy High School in Brooklyn, NY where I received the “Teacher Of The Year Award” and the “New York State Assembly Award For Teacher Excellence.” I earned a Bachelor’s degree in art education from Kutztown University in 2002 and a master’s degree in art education from Brooklyn College in 2009.
Over the years, while devoting most of my time to teaching I have dabbled in multiple mediums and themes until recently choosing a subject matter to explore in earnest. I am drawn to industrial landscapes due to its grit and the glistening of the rust. The human connection held within the cold exterior of industrial sites is haunting, yet visually exciting. This interest led me to develop a series of watercolor paintings inspired by the Bethlehem Steel which has been a fascination of mine for many years.
I have always been intrigued by its massive structures, looming over our town. As a Bethlehem native, I still remember the smell of industry and its smoky atmosphere while it was still in operation. The community surrounding the steel is also of interest to me. While taking pictures, I realized just how culturally expansive the area was at that time because of the dichotomy of the church steeples which are visible from the higher elevations. Several ethnic groups formed their churches and clubs, maintaining bonds that still exist today. I imagine the small row homes surrounded by steelworkers, soot, and dirt. Now, the buildings are left to decay. A clear symbol of the decline of industry in America. History is crumbling before our eyes. Aesthetically, however, the Bethlehem Steel is decaying beautifully as the rust illuminates in the sunlight with gorgeous golds, blues, and browns.
In general, I am fascinated with spaces that are rich in texture and linear qualities. I enjoy painting surfaces and using lines to develop form and imagery. While creating this series of watercolor paintings, I preserved the linear qualities of the I beams, wires, brick textures and railings, while also protecting highlights and shadows. Once the painting portion was finished, I started to scratch back into the work creating even more texture, lines, and destruction. I feel as if I only scratched the surface of this series, as I allow images and ideas to uncover a more conceptual understanding of my overall purpose.