Bound is more than a company. It's my vehicle for living a life with everything connected through art. Below are a few things I've made or I'm currently working on as an artist.
Project: Hold On, Be Strong, ca. 2015 - present
This conceptual art project enshrines Southern Hip Hop lyrics that have been instrumental in the genre, but perhaps more importantly, inspirational to countless young'ns such as myself. I travel all over the South and collect dirt from hallowed ground (specific to each artist) and include it in wood-grain-grippin', candy-painted frames to preserve them forever, forever-ever.
I live in downtown Durham, NC. I love it here, and it’s home for me. That said, I often find myself alone in the midst of many others. That can be a tough place to be. At times it can be discouraging, alienating, and frustrating. Or worse, depressing. Too many of us experience these feelings too often. There’s a weird irony in that “being alone in the midst of many others” that can occur in any urban setting. As an aside, you might’ve guessed I have a thing about bears. And my company’ name as well as my alter ego’s for many years was Chasing Bear. The logo has the bear looking backwards at what’s chasing him. In this case, I decided to leverage this “situation” and use the bear’s gaze to highlight the word “HUGS.” To combat this condition of urban loneliness, I spread bear hugs around the city, so that any one person might accidentally catch one while on their way to their next stop. My hope is to conjure up a few smiles here and there, and that maybe they’d be contagious. Nowadays, they've been shared around the world as stickers and as hats with friends, strangers, and otherwise.
Project: DMAP, ca. 2018
Where do I start with this one? I was contacted by a close friend of mine to work on a piece. I agreed it would be interesting, fun, and a challenge all in one. The charge? Take a historic map of Durham obtained from the Internet and scores of vintage images of downtown Durham and make something. No pressure! And so I set out. The biggest challenge was in getting the map to scale for the piece I wanted to create. Eventually, I was able to get this piece to a triptych of roughly 10-feet wide by 6-feet tall. It was an endeavor, to be sure.
I knew the piece needed a sepia tone and I had the idea to create this with a “tea” made from tobacco to tip a hat to the history of Durham. After testing with printed canvases, which were required for this piece, I realized it wouldn’t work as-is. So… I started testing various papers and eventually arrived on a substrate suitable for staining with my tobacco tea. I stained approximately nine sheets for each of the three panels. Each piece received about 6 applications of stain to achieve the desired effect. From there, a digital process ensued. I collaged high-resolution scans of the stained paper into digital backgrounds for the map. As an homage to my client, a founder of Mapquest, I digitized these scans via color halftones. The vintage images were floated into the design as contextual cues, not necessarily tied to geography.
After having the panels printed on canvas, I got into my comfort space. I started applying layer after layer of varnish (maybe 20 or 25 applications) while sprinkling in crumbled tobacco leaves to achieve a pretty gnarly surface. I was having fun now! Once I’d already “simulated” the tea staining through the printed canvas process, I thought why wouldn’t I try some out in real life. So I started heaping the tobacco tea onto the surface and allowing it to dry in pools here and there. OK. We’re almost done. Just before the final push, which was to be a proper varnish, I filled in some of the negative space of the streets with acrylic paint. Once I began the varnish process, the first step was to execute a flood matte varnish to tone everything down. The second step was to cover all three panels in masking tape and then to cut out Every. Single. Street. The final step was to apply a gloss varnish onto the streets that radiates from the center panel. Of course, I removed the tape as well. 🤓This piece means more to me than is readily apparent, even given my detailed description of creating it. There are lots of details that surfaced for me while working on this alongside Hold On Be Strong, so reach out if you’d like to know more about how this piece transcends just being a painting of maps.
66" x 120" - Sourced images, tobacco-stained paper, printed canvas, tobacco leaves, acrylic, and selected varnish
Project: New Neighbors, ca. 2011 - 2012
Throughout history art has been a catalyst for change. The October Revolution, Object Orange in Detroit, the Obama campaign. Artists have affected the course of history for kings, presidents, countries and civilizations. Art holds the power to sway social momentum, but it doesn't always operate on such a grand scale. Sometimes art hits closer to home. Sometimes it is born to a city block.
The Culture of Corruption cannot be stopped. It grows daily. We don’t know how long this growth will continue. Or, once it stops, if we’ll ever know to what extent it grew. Each member of this elite(ist) society solidifies their position with words or deeds. Sometimes both. They choose their legacy with clear vision. The members of the C.O.C. select the medium of their addition to history alone and with no regret. They do not or would not ask your opinion.
What if this powerful symbol were only about the sacrifices and tribulations of people fighting to maintain their way of life? Or what if the flag only encompassed simple family traditions being passed from generation to generation, with none of the mistakes made along the way? What if the flag were reclaimed and used as a defiant symbol of perseverance and cultural vibrancy? Or what if in the flag, we were only witness to its worst associations throughout history? More questions I admit.