48" x 144"
acrylic  on canvas
Bering & James, Houston, Texas, Cinco, August 22 - September 25, 2009
Bering Art Collective, Houston, Texas, The History of Rock & Roll, October 9 - 30, 2010
Maker is a work that addresses the idea of creationism. 

This work was created over a two year period between 2007 and 2009.  I had been toying with the idea of creating a large scale painting for quite a while.  At the time, I had just finished the genomic series and this idea had been formulating in my head for months.  

Fortunately, I had just moved into a new studio space in an industrial building.  I had a wall that would hold the entire canvas and give me plenty of room to move around and work.  Since I was fortunate enough to have all this new space, I also began Turning Point at the same time.  Two major scale paintings being painted in tandem!

The first order of business was to get the images that I needed.  The central figure was going to be tricky.  The image of an ten-armed figure was the central element so I decided that was the right place to start.  I approached my friend Patrick Kroll who did installation work at the gallery and asked him if he would be interested in modeling for me.  He agreed, and a week or so later he was at the studio ready to be photographed.  

The day of the photo shoot was in December and the studio was incredibly cold.  Nevertheless, Patrick got half naked and was incredibly patient as I shot multiple images of his arms in various positions.  In the background of this image, you can actually see the canvas on the wall with the preliminary magenta sketch.

Once the images were taken, it was a matter of "sewing" all the arms together in a logical way.  I wasn't interested in creating a literal recreation of a Shiva, but rather a loose interpretation.  The merging of ten arms turned out to be a lot more difficult than I had anticipated.  

In addition to the overlapping arms, there was a tattoo on Patrick's right forearm that had to be removed and a bracelet on his left wrist that needed to vanish.  You can see them both in the mockup above.  Between his hands is a black square, in the original sketch this was going to be where an image of the sun was going to be added, but I decided later that a square in center of the work was distracting and didn't work well.

The center figure is the starting point in this work. The multiple arms are a fairly recognizable reference to the Hindu god Shiva. Shiva is an interesting deity. There is a male Shiva, and a female Shiva. This work draws from the idea of the "Shiva linga", or the meditative Shiva.

At the end of all of the arms, the hands are open. In Hindu and Buddhist art the positions of the hands are a way of communicating a message. Certain hand positions, or mudras, can transmit ideas such as benevolence, enlightenment, knowledge or the expulsion of negativity. I deliberately left his hands open to avoid misinterpretation. 

As the Shiva has a duality in imagery, this canvas develops in two halves that follow on that that symbolism.

The left side of the canvas represents the feminine. The colors of pink for the feminine side and the blue for the masculine side derive from Western color attribution of these colors to children. 

The pink orb is filled with a blossoming zinnia. In the middle ages the zinnia was a symbol of faith and belief. The zinnia is surrounded by anatomical diagrams in the orb. This side of the canvas references the physical, biological act of creation. 

The far left of the canvas brackets the zinnia orb with with lines of code from DNA, the building blocks of all biological creation.

The right side of the canvas begins with a blue orb filled with a blossoming lotus. As a traditional symbol of the Buddha and enlightenment it refers to the concepts of philosophy, thought and the mind. Surrounding the lotus are diagrams and schematics. This side of the canvas, the masculine side, concerns itself with the physical act of creation. The creation of an idea, the idea becoming a tangible thing. 

The right side of the canvas is bracketed with binary code. This code of 1's and 0's is the language of computers and mimics the DNA patterns on the opposite side.

Behind the central figure are patterns of city streets that are intended to evoke the patterns of a leaf. Spreading out from the center, small leaves of every variety can be seen, all with no pattern on them at all.

In our quest for creation and new technology or thought, we are constantly redefining what we know. But our thoughts and progress will always mimic the natural world around us that we understand and see everyday. A plane will be shaped like a bird, a road will run like a river.

The moons that wax and wane in an arc over the canvas represent the passage of time, a cycle of thought and progress. 

The world has had a long time to work out the most effective solutions for problems. We "discover" the same solutions over and over and often never realize that it was right in front of us the whole time. 

Maker was the largest single work on canvas I had created at the time. It measures 12 feet wide by 4 feet tall.