New Year's at the Church (2021)

Artist’s Note

For a time, I was a part of an art collective that ran an enormous DIY house venue. We had rented a whole-ass church in the Puerto Rican neighborhood of Chicago. For 5 years, we hosted all manner of hopefully of-age folks, elbowing for their share of youthful experience. On New Year's Day in 2017, we reached our apex, with 400 people crammed inside this large carpeted room that would be better served for a potluck dinner for some Aunties' social club doing the things that 20 somethings delinquents have been doing for as long as we can remember (read: 1950, probably). A picture was taken that night from the stage which captured the size and energy of that crowd. Eventually this picture would be in the police report that our landlord referenced when he kicked us out. It was a fair court. I had a simple plan, to paint this photograph in some large format. I chose a canvas I’d already filled with an abstract layer that in retrospect felt predestined to serve as the base. I projected the photograph onto the yellow and purple checkered canvas, and I knew right from the jump that the cheap projector and even cheaper bulb left me barely able to see a thing. I had genuinely wrestled with my artistic moral compass over using a projector: Was I "cheating"?

I knew the way I’d resolve this: I would make it difficult, I would make it a high-wire event. The painting would have to be made in one sitting and painted fast. I refused to properly mark the projector's relation to the wall, or the canvas' relation to the floor. I did not secure anything. A bump into any physical object would throw the whole event into chaos. I sat the tubes of paint at my feet to avoid movement and minimize chances to bump anything out of place. I poured an indiscriminate amount of any one color onto the palate then tried to find a projected object to duplicate. Hair line. PAINT. That's a face. PAINT FACE. What is that? I don't know, paint it anyway.

I used up all of whatever color I had poured before I added more to the mix. At times, I did not know what color I was using. I couldn’t tell apart the color from the base layer, the color being projected, and the color that I was currently painting. I knew only one goal: everything must be painted that night. I felt myself losing steam, but I sensed the finish line. I love how the last figures I rendered turned out; they were painted so fast that only a faint spirit exists, which falls into the vastness of the crowd.