My American Dream (Marlborough)
Frankenstein (Amazing Grace), 2015 Oil on linen 30 × 26 inches
Frankenstein (Amazing Grace), 2015
Oil on linen 30 × 26 inches

This painting is a revisit of an earlier work of mine from 1997, where I also depicted a portrait of Frankenstein’s monster, from my breakout NYC exhibition at Jay Gorney Modern Art. In this painting, created 18 years later, instead of imitating my earlier, more gestural and expressionist style, I instead painted the image in my more contemporary, micromanaged way, wanting to infuse the work with a more subtle approach that hopefully creates an even more complex and rich depiction of this famous persona. In my more mature, sympathetic view, instead of the unbridled anxious take on the monster, I have taken a more heroic approach on a character that has outlasted the ages. Much like the character in Mary Shelly’s masterpiece and the great James Whale films, the monster refuses to die, and lives on in our world and imagination as a depiction of the ultimate abject being who doesn’t fit into a symbolic order, yet maintains his agency as a person of conflict, poetry, and power. Wanting to go back to the original, more sentient, intelligent and articulate creation of Dr. Frankenstein, I listened to the original Shelly text while painting, and also music that inspired feelings of how I relate to the character—of punk rock, Kurt Cobain, but ultimately John Lennon, who like the non-violent aspects of the monster, was a person who the public helped to create, and who was a highly intelligent being making music that lasted about his relationship to others and the world. I also reflected back to the original films, and how Whale and Boris Karloff were able to create empathy for the character—for Whale, as a personal allegorical metaphor for what it was like for him to be a gay man during his time, and as a British officer who was detained in a POW camp during World War One. Despite the obvious tragic side of the monster, the character has achieved iconic status in our culture for many who feel "other" to their contemporary times, and ultimately he becomes a sort of hero for many. Like in the lyrics for the hymn "Amazing Grace," by the once slave trader-turned-clergyman John Newton, Frankenstein (as the monster has simply become known) is a character that has transcended his monstrousness and has become a symbol of redemption.