My paintings are based on found graphics and data from online and print media. Appropriated from the financial and business sections of newspapers and economic journals, tweets, and blogs, I transform raw numbers and bland graphics into vivid pictures of increasing income and wealth inequality.
Visually, my paintings reference hard-edge geometric abstraction, abstract expressionism, minimalism. But I see my work as representational. My paintings are data-driven and period-specific rather than transcendent. Beyond self-expressive, they depict what’s happening in the lives of millions of people. They are financial landscapes created out of invisible numbers, depicting an anxious reality that has ongoing social and political consequences.
The income stagnation and burden of rising debt for the vast majority of us, in the face of astonishing growth in wealth for a few, are our financial reality. Yet most people feel these imbalances only vaguely, unaware of their magnitude and worsening over time. Hard data, transformed in scale and color, become abstract portraits illuminating our wildly skewed economic situation. In my paintings, the imbalances are made tangibly visible for the eyes of those with the disposable income to collect paintings, as well as for those without.
The cheeky titles point to the underlying content. “The Rise of the 1% (…and everyone else)” contrasts the rise in average income of the top 1% over the last 100 years in gold against the average income of the 99% marked by a crawling red line. “The Richest 400: We’re Winning!” combines two statements from Warren Buffet—one, that the richest 400 Americans saw their income increase by a factor of 7 from 1992-2012; two, that class warfare has already begun, and his class is winning.
The paintings on paper in gouache couple graphs and charts with figures based on Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.” In the central panel of Bosch’s painting, people appear to be engaged in pleasant, at times hedonistic activities while ignoring the hell to come. It’s an apt analogy for our times. The figures are juxtaposed with graphs on growing debt and increasing income inequality. While we revel in tech toys and gourmet food in the midst of flat wages and paltry retirement savings, the title of the gouache series asks, Are We Having Fun Yet?