ABOUT THE ARTIST
My artwork is about being authentic, editing the world, editing my life to what is the truth. Going beyond the things I have done or acquired, I find myself to be abstract—like my art. With my painting, I want to create and evoke a visual pathway to experience spirituality. I hope my art encourages others to self-reflect; that it makes them stop, pause, take a breath, and contemplate. I hope it is a respite that is lifegiving, empowering, and supportive of self-discovery.
I was born and grew up in Greenwood, a town in the Mississippi Delta, where creativity and culture are a way of life. Early on I found that the visual could provide me with a stable foundation, while learning to navigate the dichotomies of life. A major influence was my art teacher, Mrs. Leny Wacht, who understood and supported me from an early age and well into adulthood.
During my undergraduate education I explored the many ways of processing the world visually, starting with a degree in landscape architecture at Mississippi State University. Then I was off to NYC for a degree in interior design at The New York School of Interior Design. I also studied fashion design at The Fashion Institute of Technology.
My first job was as interior designer at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan, which included furniture and product design, along with in-store model rooms. I moved on to be the Home Furnishing Coordinator for Bergdorf Goodman and later became Corporate Design Director at Estee Launder, Inc.
Although I was 22 years old when I first moved to NYC, I feel like I grew up there. The city was a nurturing and productive place for me to begin discovering who I am. But after 16 years, the city became restrictive. I adapted to—and eventually became limited by—the environment of the design world.
I returned to Mississippi to discover a new level of authenticity. I bought a house that was built in 1872 in the historic town of Vicksburg and restored it to become a Pilgrimage Tour home. I was still going back to NYC and traveling to other places for magazine photo-styling work, but mostly I spent my time painting.
Eventually, I moved near Carrollton, MS, where a Mennonite man and his son built a house that I designed, along with a studio, where I painted. I was there about 15 years. The work on my website is largely from that period.
Over the course of painting, I discovered that I am about something much larger than myself: A calling from deep within, from beyond consciousness. Once engaged with that creative space, I was in communication with another source. I realized I was getting in touch with the intuitiveness of the creative process. Painting became a spiritual practice. I could not force the creative experience or the spiritual experience. I learned I had to get out of my own way and allow myself to be available to it. I found the larger-than-myself source of creativity to be God.
I settled into a most satisfying, introverted lifestyle, living and painting in the quiet home I had designed, including a pond, gardens, and all sorts of bird life: chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, and guineas. Along the way I earned a master’s degree in education from Mississippi Valley State University. I started attending the Episcopal church.
Life was good. And then, bam! Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi. Soon after, I found myself serving as the Director of Camp Coast Care, a relief center in Long Beach, MS, which was established by the Lutheran and Episcopal Services in Mississippi. We were a pop-up volunteer center that provided room and board, albeit cots in a storm-damaged gymnasium, to thousands of volunteers from all fifty states and nine foreign countries who came to help with recovery. The site included huge tents that housed distribution of supplies and emergency medical services, all managed and run by volunteers. It was an eye-opening and life-changing experience for me. From the isolation of living and painting in the country, suddenly I was managing and working with all kinds of people with the urgency of survival.
It was while doing this work that I became aware of my call to become a priest. Many of the people I encountered on site helped me to realize my call. I was the first openly gay person to seek ordination in the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. Soon, I was back in NYC enrolled at The General Theological Seminary, where I earned a master’s degree in divinity with a certificate in spiritual direction. Following seminary, I returned to Mississippi, where I served in my first church after ordination.
Currently, I am in my seventh year as rector in an Episcopal parish in rural Pennsylvania, where I live with my partner and our cat.