I had a dream of painting North America, but that it looked like a puzzle, and realized, after waking up, that Jasper Johns had painted his flag painting from a dream, and although it’s a super smart painting that helped to bring modernism into post-modernity, that it was an idea that was simply generated from his instinctive, dream self, and that you should always follow your dreams when making art—as you subconscious can be as smart as your conscious self. I realized, after doing research looking for an America that was like my dream image, that Google Earth was the best source for this, and created the painting. After doing this, and feeling success with the work, I also realized that unlike Johns, who in a Duchamp-way found a “readymade” with his map, and painted the borders and stenciled names of the states in an ab-ex-y way, perhaps making a wry commentary on ab ex and landscape painting, in a knowing, tongue-and-cheek manner that also was allegorically expressive of how we map over reality with language and/or how any means of expression—the “freedom” of the ab ex painters was merely just that—a language. Although my initial painting was pixilated, I wanted it to be about the nation without borders, the real landscape captured by satellite photos. I had also painted pictures of the earth—the first picture of the earth—taking analogue, by a human astronaut, and while enjoying this and the effect of looking at this kind of image, it seemed dated, and more seemed possible to bring about the notion of painting a landscape, but unlike in times of the past when we were restricted by what we could experience “en plein aire” or by photography. For the initial installation “My American Dream”, which I feel is a giant, comic like composition, where each painting acts like a single panel in a comic, juxtaposed with another to created a content and time-rich sequence, I wanted the camera to “pan out” as it were, from my own personal life, and like an epic that has micro-managed “personal narratives” within macro-managed panoramas of world events, wanted to bring in our country and the planet that its on to emulate the global aspects of what “My American Dream” could be about. So I went back to Google Earth, but this time, panned out farther, and chose the day I was doing this, and the time, so it would be as if I stood outside in space and painted the scene of our world floating in space, and did this on my husband Andrew and I’s anniversary day of Feb. 22, 2012, when we were celebrating our 20th anniversary of being together! It was fun painting all the micromanaged moments in the work, and remembered the feeling of watching the opening scenes of “The Big Blue Marble” that showed the Earth as it really was, generating a sublime feeling even as a youngster, that we were really all like hamsters running around on this rock we call Earth, and we think we know what we know but how much do we really know about everything. When it comes to gender identity politics, certainly it becomes true that we are all merely animals that use language and the proceeding ideological ideas of politics to subjugate and partition different groups and different peoples. I do feel that the earth is a living thing, like a giant whale in space and we are merely barnacles clinging to its surface—if we could all learn to respect one another and the planet that we are living on hopefully we can all come together an make the world a better place where we can all survive happily and healthfully into the future!
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Jasper Johns, ‘Map’, 1961, MoMA