The Three is a very personal project. This project began when I was stuck in an artistic rut. I was constantly using the same imagery, and I did not know where to go stylistically. I was experiencing writers’ block as a visual artist. I began by looking at the images that I had created, and deciding to leave them behind; to never consider or use those ideas again. After making this decision, I began work on a digital piece that was a composite of significant pieces of artwork that included The Unraveling Man, Void, and The Diplomat all hanging on a wall, framed. Reflected in the glass of the frames, the viewer could see a figure walking through a doorway, away from the artwork. As I worked on the piece, I realized that I was leaving these images and ideas behind in anger, and with a distinct lack of appreciation or respect for the time and energy that had been put into them. I stopped working on the piece. Deciding how to proceed was not easy. I spent a long time musing about what to do. I realized that I was at a crossroads, but I hadn’t figured out where the roads led. I wanted to create new imagery and evolve as an artist without disrespecting my past work. I began by thinking about what the images had meant to me in the past.
Void was the character that appeared the earliest on in my life. She was created around the time of my parents’ divorce, and was dealing with the trauma of her world being completely changed and turned upside down at the same time that I was. As she got used to her new world, she became more confident and assured of herself and her place in it, in the same way that I became comfortable with my changed world. Our arcs paralleled each other. The Unraveling Man was a character that came to me years later, during a time of great artistic stress. He was a figure who appeared in both sketchbooks and finished work, and for a long time seemed to be in pain. Eventually he became more confident as he began wearing suits, and other professional attire during the same period of time that I was becoming more confident with myself as an artist. Until I hit my wall, of course. Finally, The Diplomat appeared in very few finished pieces, but was a character that inhabited the world of my Sketchbooks. He originally came to me not as a single man, but as a race of beings. They appeared as I was applying to colleges, and slowly became one single individual as my choices narrowed. By the time I made my way to East Carolina University, they had become one entity.
When I was at ECU, no one evolved. I became depressed, and fell into the artistic slump described previously. Returning to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts was what kick started this project. By calling upon these memories and realizing their importance and their rich histories, I was able to determine where to go. Instead of writing them off, I recognized them for what they were: elements of my personality, and subconscious mind. Each represented a different side of my being, each of whom come out when they are needed, and each of whom need to be cherished and appreciated. I began journaling on this, and eventually figured out who each of them was on a more personal level.
On the surface, Void is the aggression and confusion in me. But on a deeper level, Void is the survival instinct, and the one who gets things done. Not only does this mirror her personality in the comics, but it also reflects how she has related to me throughout my life, and the entire reason she was created, although I may not have realized it at the time.
The Unraveling Man is the art and the spirituality in me. He is the one who toils night and day, in and out wrestling with concepts of god, beauty, expression, and life. He is always working to create a piece that is more meaningful and beautiful than the last, with a hunger for creation and a greater understanding of himself and the universe that he inhabits.
The Diplomat keeps the group together and moving forward. He is there to ensure that they are all in harmony with each other, and the world around them. He negotiates with others, and frequently places himself in their shoes while being mindful of what is in his and his companions’ best interest.
I am just now beginning my work with these three characters. Each of them has a voice, which must be explored, and the first thing they are going to do is create a self-portrait, and a portrait of the other two group members. Once that has been completed, they and I will move forward together in one fashion or another.