Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an artist and educator who has lived in Manhattan for the past 9 years. For my full-time gig, I write curriculum for a school in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Since moving to the City, I’ve inadvertently cobbled together my own art curriculum by taking a ton of classes like book making, printing, and weaving. Having easy access to a wide variety of art and cultural institutions is probably the best perk to living in New York City.
When you create, what inspires you?
Red Hook has been a huge inspiration lately. My office is right on the waterfront, and is nestled among the industrial spaces and brick warehouses. My father was a bricklayer, so he taught me to really appreciate architecture. The buildings aren’t very tall in Red Hook, so there’s a lot of sky and a lot light. There’s such a richness in texture and color when the afternoon sun shines on the red bricks making an environment very conducive for photography.
Music and poetry are two major inspirations as well. I title most of my photographs with lines from poems by folks such as Borges, Pablo Neruda and e.e. cummings.
Tell us about the specific inspiration behind one or each of your accepted pieces.
The first piece “yes is a world,” titled after an e.e. cummings poem, was a happy accident in learning how to see. I was in the lobby at P.S. 1 MoMA in Long Island City. The lobby wall is dotted by these, thick but small glass holes that looked out toward the former Five Points graffiti building (it’s since been torn down to make room for apartment buildings). As I peered through one of the holes toward the building, it looked as if the rest of the world was curling around it while framed by a gauzy, blue halo. I liked the effect, so I snapped a photo.
The second piece is based on a line from a Marianne Moore poem called, “The Mind is an Enchanted Thing.” This film photograph was taken over 10 years ago in the Budapest underground and is actually the back wall to one of the tube stations. It looked surreal and iridescent in the low light of the subway. It reminded me of the shimmery quality of the feathers in a dove’s neck.
What is your medium of choice? Why?
At the moment, digital photography. It’s quick and immediate.
But collage and assemblage have always been my favorites. I’m a huge fan of Joseph Cornell and Louise Bourgeois and love how they manipulate random objects to convey such personal emotions. It’s kinda existential too; trying to make meaning out of chaos.
How did you first discover your love for creating?
I was in the second grade at St. John the Apostle Elementary School in Linden, New Jersey. The school was sponsoring a Halloween mask contest. I remember rushing home and making a chicken mask out of a paper plate, a paper bag, and some magic markers. I won first place! I got a trophy and everything. And you know what’s funny? I’m still making bird costumes for Halloween. A few years ago, I was the Russian fire bird in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. It was a huge hit!
fēlan is old English for feel. What makes you feel fascination?
What makes me feel fascination are random piles of junk on flea market tables, abandoned buildings, Buster Keaton, French religious medals from the 19th century, and Oddfellows memorabilia.