Bruce is an Artist living in Atlanta that specializes in painting and photographing the figure using a wide variety of media. His work is largely split between lenticular photography and simple painting materials.
Firstly, thank you for reading these brief thoughts.
The struggle between traditional art and the digital world seems to be a pretty common theme these days, for me it reflects somewhat of a personal struggle between the career that pays or a passion that doesn’t. I have settled for passion over pay. I am committed to producing art after a successful career in software. Not an uncommon narrative I guess, but it does shape my art in unique ways.
I was brought up by a classically trained artist and an IBM executive, so it makes sense for me to be creatively schizophrenic. I have a Luddite side which focuses on raw, analog creativity and a digital side which focuses on planning, execution, material selection, and technical virtuosity.
I photograph layered, abstract, manipulated, figurative photo-montage and print the result as lenticulars. Lenticulars for me are unique in the way that they bridge the analog and digital. They are at the nexus of my work as I push in both of those directions. I constantly expand the analog / physical side by including diverse media and I expand the digital side with a variety of digital photo manipulation algorithms and photography techniques.
There are a lot of things that I love about lenticulars aside from the fact that they glow and morph. Not a lot of people know lenticulars outside of a corporate trinket in a candy box or a postcard from Florida and there are no books or classes on how to use it to create art, but the discipline is as unique as the viewing of it. Lenticulars demand participation. Images that change interactively require viewers to move, and a gallery of lenticulars is a study in Brownian motion. Every movement of the viewer brings a new image. Images are different with distance and light. People move back and forth and often have to go to the beginning to interpret the overall piece.
I methodically plan and scheme my way to a new art work. I write new ideas for artistic concepts in a journal every day and I sift through those ideas for validity periodically so as not to get distracted by every new shiny thing. I research the archival nature of materials as well as their compatibility, I review techniques for execution online, and I constantly experiment. I plan and visualize my end result and stage my photography accordingly. Then, when I take the leap to create, I discard as much as I keep.
In other words, what I produce is rarely exactly what I envision. I have learned that part of being a good artist is recognizing the ideal from the idealized and responding to the feedback that you get from the creative process. This ability to alter your creative trajectory is critical whether you are creating a frantic, immediate, instantaneous expression or works that are years in the making. It is the ability to cull the art from the process that makes for good art; creative call and response.
Exercise in Restraint
I am also obsessed with painting arrest photos of civil rights advocates from the mid-50’s in Montgomery, Alabama. Most of them from the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
It is my belief that America has lost something more important in recent years than predominance in the world economy; it is our ability to discern what is important and act upon it. These images, for me, epitomize that on many levels. Each of these brave individuals risks something different, notoriety, income, family, beliefs, safety, but they risk it all collectively.
Robert Rauschenberg, the American artist and one of the leaders in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art, famously said, “A pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil and fabric.” I have happened upon this truth relatively recently and I questioned why I was painting in oil or with a stylus. The answer was simply because it is what I was taught.
My media currently is simple and borrows from my local surroundings. I am an artist in the Southern United States and the artists that purely express Southern culture are often labeled “Folk Artists” or “Outsider Artists” (e.g. Thornton Dial). I am harvesting my materials palette from him in the same way that early rock and roll was birthed from the cauldron of African American Southern blues.
The use of “locally sourced” materials speaks to the environment from which the art originates in the same way that Mayan work relates to terra cotta, Chinese calligraphy to ink and rice paper, Lascaux cave paintings relate to charcoal. I believe that the medium is a part of the message and this concept is lost when artists limit themselves to using only the most versatile medium (e.g. oil paint or a stylus).
I currently work with rug, wood panel, marine epoxy, encaustic, charcoal, acrylic, oil paint, silver, rope, rawhide, raw pigment, stain, etc.
I would seek to remind us all of our personal worth. Individual loss, bravery, love, and sacrifice is everywhere and everywhere ignored every day. Modern media channels give us the facade of connectedness diluted by the breadth of communication, but it is human and personal connectedness that my paintings seek to explore.