My drapery paintings on carved wood invoke and reinvent European canonical painting. A drapery may stand in for the body, free of specific gender connotations while still creating a human presence. The often-carved surfaces in the painting construction, along with the illusionistically painted drapery images, blend painting and sculpture, object and illusion, allowing the referents to resonate on multiple levels. I also see my paintings as texts (and often include text) offering layers of meaning to those viewers who take the time to engage them.
Historically, the dialectic of drapery and the body seeks both to reveal and conceal substance and spirit. Drapery presents or covers the body in a number of ways: as a pulled back curtain, as an item of clothing, as a banderole, or as a bed sheet. Drapery can make known the sensuality/sexuality of the body, as in Titian’s Venus of Urbino where wall draperies and bed clothing frame a naked, reclining figure. Drapery can reveal the spirituality of the body/person or event, as in Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, in which Saint Teresa is covered in yards of inexplicably animated fabric that becomes a visual expression of her spirituality, sensuality, and visionary experience. Drapery can also reveal as it conceals, as in Van Der Weyden’s Crucifixion: the crucified and virtually naked Christ figure in the center of the painting is covered only with a piece of drapery that serves as a loin cloth. His divinity is maintained or signified by the covering of his genitals with a cloth that extends several feet from both sides of his body and mysteriously floats in a windless sky.