A former student of environmental studies and landscape architecture, I see my life experiences as part of a frustrated search for the ideal in the natural world. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, and restless for the unfamiliar, I developed a fascination with natural phenomena from books and television - one that I expressed through painting and drawing. Yearly family vacations to Florida, and subsequent travel to Hawaii, the Galapagos, Costa Rica, East Africa and the western United States during my teenage and early college years, soon focused this interest on botany (particularly palms and succulents) alongside a fixation with volcanic cones. The Galapagos and Hawaii experiences in particular - striking juxtapositions of wet and dry, complex volcanic topography, and oddly scale-less landscapes- drew me increasingly to small islands and other locales with dramatically diverse natural environments compressed into walkable, completely “knowable” scales. This attraction developed into an obsession, to the point where actual places would rarely measure up to the images that had already developed in my head.
I graduated from Stanford in 2000, where I studied Human Biology (focusing on environmental topics) and took courses in ecology, geology, botany, linguistics, photography, painting, and art history. This experience - including a semester abroad in Madagascar focusing on ecology and conservation, and an internship in Peru creating a guidebook on Amazonian palms - solidified the growing realization that my environmental interests, more driven by idealized versions of environments than the complexities of actual ecosystems and geological features, were more artistic than scientific. In 2004, I completed a three-year masters program in landscape architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, planning to build a career upon designing and constructing these ideal landscapes. The profession proved to be a relatively good fit. But, I quickly learned that due to the practical requirements of professional practice, most of my visions could still only exist in the imagination - or as artwork. Soon after graduation, my longing to realize these visions drew me to photomontage, which ultimately led to my explorations in oils and watercolors.