This painting is based on a photo I took while on a short cruse that my husband and I took just to get this image. Years ago, when I was teaching at NYU, I would take my students on a sketching journey on the Staten Island Ferry, and of course, seeing Liberty from there was such a highlight, although the boat would move to quickly to really render all that you would absorb in what would become a sublime experience. Here, with high definition from a digital image, one can capture so much more information that in maritime paintings of the past, Turner being my favorite. At this moment in our America, when the whole notion of liberty is something we are learning not to take for granted, and as our notion of immigration has so devolved, the statue has taken on even more gravitas in our time where we narrowly escaped fascism, and how our current president exploits immigration for his own evil demigod agenda. From afar, Liberty is something to be reached, and like how the immigrants that helped to build our nation would look upon her as a beacon of hope, I too look upon her as a symbol of freedom.
I like to paint pixels as if they are “real”, being a son of a psychoanalyst, and I hope something that makes an image like this contemporary, but also a painterly expression of the past. Like Cézanne ruminating on his thoughts and memories, and using landscape as a map to project his thoughts and feelings but also his unconscious which breaks his landscapes into subliminal abstractions, that I might try to do the same with my images. Here, the trees, the undulating water, but most especially the statue (and the face of the statue, for which I spent a week painting!) becomes otherworldy in the micromanagement of the noise from my high res photo albeit taken at a distance. As our America, especially before the recent edifying midterm election, seemed to be ripping apart, and as the Kavanaugh hearings for the Supreme Court were happening in the background of my studio as I painted, the notion of liberty, what America stands for, and the political demonization of immigration was roaring. In my photo and painting, Liberty just seemed more than sad, almost transformed, as the pixels become fractals like looking at the cosmos through the wrong end of the telescope or a microscopic world, like bacteria that threatens to tear the palpability of the impression of the statue as she fights to stay on– as we fight to retain the beauty and majesty of all our great country stands for now, and forever.