When I am centrifuging nanoparticles in a lab, collecting dead sea creatures at low tide, or weighing salts to feed a bacterial culture, I am digging deeply into painting’s past in order to tease out its future. My work is inspired by the diverse practices that have comprised the painter’s vocation over the centuries—the painter as chemist, as mirror-maker, optical engineer, and creator of skins. These roles have their basis in history, but, in my practice, they function as platforms from which to reimagine what painting can be. Essentially, I’ve come to realize that it’s the archaic ideas about what a painter does that strike me as most charged with possibility, as most volatile and likely to produce something new and unexpected.

My work draws upon a long tradition of painters who developed their own media. This history inspired my artist-in-residency in the Alivisatos nanoscience lab at University of California Berkeley, in which I created metal nanoparticles for use in my paintings and sculptures. Manipulating matter at the nanoscale, smaller than wavelengths of visible light, allows me to generate non-pigmental color. The historical context that inspired this work has become its subject. Much of my work explores the intertwined histories of mirror-making, painting, and nanoscience.