Shape Lines, 2007; Shape Snow, 2006
JL: Your work is very diverse, but there is a strong attention to materials that exists in almost everything you do. Have you ever been a painter per se, or did you earlier works always have this similar materiality/constructed element?
EB: I made some paintings with paint in undergraduate school that were still lives and models but quickly moved from using paints to gesso with photocopy transfers, a process akin to printmaking. I prefer to be a bit removed and act as a channel for the materials. This probably explains why I continue to be involved with printmaking, a roller making the mark instead of my hand.
JL: How do you go about choosing what you will use? Are the materials found, purchased etc.?
EB: The materials are found and purchased. I choose things based on their capabilities- color, texture, fluidity or similarity to something else. For example, I mentioned making "bridge work" or "twins" where one piece is connected to the one before it or making a piece to connect two finished pieces. When thinking like this, I look for materials that mimic elements from the other pieces but I use the word “mimic” loosely. The fun in this system is that it’s structured, feels personalized and also promotes variety.
Pink Stack, 2007, screenprint monotype; Paper Shapes Group, 2007
JL: Why not just use a hard material like a rock or concrete when making a rock, instead of paper?
EB: I wasn’t actually trying to make rocks, I was turning some flat shapes from my prints into 3-D objects (but they ended up looking like rocks). However, the question still applies because I'd be unlikely to make rocks from rock. I prefer dualities or opposites-heavy/light, hard/soft, backward/forwards, natural/man-made. I guess I like integrating dissimilar elements and observing the amount that one thing differs from the next.
JL: What is gained here?
EB: What is gained here is amusement and a way for me to generate work. An open-ended system that I enjoy and can return to. The selection of materials I choose is personal, specific to me.They are disparate but imitate each other in order to form connections. Paper becomes wood, wood becomes sand, sand becomes glass and glass becomes tape. There is a term in psychology called mirroring. It’s when people make each other feel comfortable by acting similar like imitating someone's tone of voice or movements. It's a way to create kinship. The imitation or mirroring that happens in my work is a way to make all the unrelated materials fit together and communicate.
JL: In this case, why do you think you might lean towards making abstract works, as opposed to using figuration to hint more directly at this “kinship” and communication?
EB: This is a hard question. I guess I like the contrast of using inanimate objects to describe a human activity. My parents were/are collectors of antiques and the business of observing, evaluating and even anthropomorphizing stuff is a familiar one. But mostly, figuration would be too similar to the thought process I use for everyday living. I enjoy the departure from the known. I don’t think I explained this very well but it boils down to freedom.
JL: Are there pertinent art historical precedents in your work?
EB: Fluxus would be a historical precedent because I work with a lot of different materials that are brought together by my world view and I’m also wrapped up in simplicity over complexity, humor and absurdity.