I am interested in the creatures that live around us, especially those that seem to receive our greatest disdain. I learned about the domestication of the pigeon around 3000 BC, making it one of the first domesticated animals and the first domesticated bird. I learned about the uses pigeons were put to as a food source, a pet, a messenger and as a hobby. I read stories about pigeons saving lives in war, pigeons finding their way home from hundreds of miles away in nonstop marathon races, and pigeons that had been crossbred in such amazing ways that they could no longer feed themselves. I discovered that pigeons had been used extensively in science to study behavior, trained to distinguish artwork of one artist from another, used to spot lost sailors at sea and, almost, used to make a pigeon guided smart bomb.
This did not seem to me to be the history of a species deserving disdain or contempt. I started by making paintings that explored this hidden history of the pigeon. Birds, trapped in dark, lost environments acted out the events of their forgotten past. War hero birds, surrounded by their medals and equipment posed for fancy breed pigeons in a dark and collapsing cabinet. Birds that can be trained to recognize themselves in a mirror cluster around a broken one in a hazily lit abandoned warehouse. In order to impart a theatrical and suggestive quality to these paintings I drew on the early baroque paintings of artists like Caravaggio who used the extreme form of chiaroscuro called tenebrism. I wanted to tap into my viewers desire to look into the shadows to wonder what was really going on with these birds.