Made on a cold January day, I dragged my wife Nancy; our daughter Nina; and our dog Yoshi outside before school to stand in front of my work van to be photographed. The composition pays homage to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” in presenting our new lives as Midwestern Americans. Standing in front of my work van, this photograph presents the reality of the many roles one has to take on to work as an artist.
This is a portrait of me as a naked Chasidic Jew shot in the woods of Nebraska. It’s a piece about vulnerability, the gaze and the push and pull of identification. How one views oneself and how is one viewed. I grew out my beard and created the hair curls.
“Dandelion” is at its core a statement on spirituality. Through its immense scale, high detail, and delicacy it asks the viewer to see this weed as an example of the Sublime and experience the awe inspiring beauty of nature. This piece in earnest positions even the societally denigrated dandelion as an example of the majesty of the natural world.
Rooted in my interest in signs and symbols, “EGGS” plays upon the roles of the “sign” that is the letters and the “signified” that is actual eggs. There is a humor in the fact that this word actually is what it spells. I delved into the world of typography to create this image, playing with how much these eggs needed to resemble letters to communicate the meaning.
Playing upon my interest in symbols and the necessary markers to communicate their meanings, this image extrapolates the formal similarities between the concentric circles of the iris and pupil with that of the areola and nipple. To emphasize this eye connection, I shaved the surrounding hair into the iconic almond shape of a human eye. This formal resemblance combined with our natural instinct to see faces and symbols in the world results in the absurd impulse to stare into the nipples as one might eyes, and even assign them emotions.
A decade after creating “Untitled (Chuck Close),” I recreated the same image, but this time with the intent to investigate religion, the ways in which our identity can appear to others, and what it means to be a Jew in America. I grew out my beard and traditional pais curls, and dressed in the clothes of the typical Ultra-Orthodox Jew. In depicting myself this way, I took on the visual markers of “Jewish” as a way to present my increased feelings of otherness as a Jewish man in the United States.
In this piece I have cast myself as Chuck Close, referencing his iconic “Big Self-Portrait.”
In doing so, I poke fun at not only myself and Close, but the art world at large. I am humorously highlighting the ways in which we are superficially similar (balding, glasses, art careers, etc…) while also laying out the many ways in which we are dissimilar, particularly in terms of the art world’s hierarchy. As an artist fascinated by symbols, I am dressing myself in the visual markers of Close (a successful artist) and attempting to craft that same narrative for my own career, developing art credentials by association.
Constructed entirely of found deer droppings, this piece finds humor in that the word is truly constructed out of what it references and the childish nature of the vulgarity. Phrased in reference to the elegance of eau de parfum, “doody de deer” juxtaposes the abject nature of its content with its elevation to the perceived prestige of fine art.
This body of work of animals investigates the relationship between humanity and nature, particularly the inability to get a true understanding of the consciousness of one another. While we as humans can understand that animals have minds and personalities unique to them, we have no way to communicate our particular lived experiences to the other. Using the idea of the eye as the window to the soul, these images focus on the gaze between the subject and viewer seeking to bridge that divide.
Created on a trip to Cornish, New Hampshire this piece responds to the overwhelming feeling I had as a Jewish man of being out of place in the stereotypical New England environment. This image investigates the façade created by polite society and the prejudices that lurk below the surface.
This photograph juxtaposes the archetype that is conjured by the word “MOM” with the reality of what a mother looks like. The text is very clean, balanced and symmetrical, calling to mind the sterile picture of motherhood presented to us in cultural media. Taking the place of the letter “O” is my own mother, standing slightly off balance, and in an asymmetrical pose. This calls attention to the divide between society’s concept of the perfect mom and the reality of every mother. They are fully formed human beings that exist beyond the prescribed traits of motherhood, and have their own flaws, desires, and personalities.
My father is a put together and public man in his community. By allowing me to photograph him without his shirt, he is exposed and vulnerable in ways that he would rarely let others see. In this piece I am documenting the intimacy that can be shared between loved ones. I am highlighting the love and trust between my father & I, and allowing the viewer to participate in this experience.