Three weeks before the 10th Anniversary show for RWK in Philly, I had one piece complete (Oxidation), and I was leaving for a two week business trip to North Carolina.
It was 1:00am the night before I was scheduled to drive down from New York to Raleigh NC, when I called an old friend of mine on Staten Island to ask her if she would pose for some photo reference for me. It was drizzling slightly, cold and foggy when I picked her up, after picking up the professional camera that my cousin Sara was lending me for the trip. I had an old shop-light and a basement bedroom to do the photo shoot which we quickly chose after spending a few minutes outside getting a feel for the camera in the rain. I set up the light and began, initially quiet, but then loosening up a bit because the pictures weren’t coming out the way I wanted and I had the feeling it was because I was too anxious about getting something to paint before I left on my trip. I asked my model, who worked security for years in venues across NYC, to show me what she looks like when dealing with a “situation” at work. After initially laughing at the request, she put the coldest expression on her face and shifted her posture long enough for me to get the shot that became “Sublimation Draft I”.
It was closing in on 4:00 AM, and we were still in the basement with only the shop-light on. She was smoking a cigarette, blowing the smoke into the light like a magic trick, sitting on the floor and we just started talking. The conversation took a tour of all the personal issues we’d been dealing with, confronting and solving. It’s that type of effortless talking between old friends where you’re not even bothering to filter yourself anymore, the themes run together and the whole conversation is just a continuation of dialogue started somewhere else a very long time ago, continued internally and out loud, tracing itself all the way through to that exact second. I was still taking pictures at this point, not thinking and not directing, just taking pictures as we discussed what was really important. It was in that mindset then, that I took the photo that would be used as my basis for “Coagulation”.
When I was in North Carolina, I prepped and painted the first draft of Coagulation on the grass behind my hotel. I set up my covert operation in a grass alley behind my hotel, where the smokers congregated. I had a clip-on flashlight attached to a chain link fence, as the only source of light to paint from. The finished product came out pretty dark, intentionally, trying to capture that feeling where you’re only half-seeing the person you’re talking to, in a cold room, in a hurry.