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David King 1. "Falling #1" 18"x12" 1986 I've always been interested in collage, but my engagement really took center stage in 1986 when I found out I was HIV positive and I needed a way to express what I was going through. Some people use journals as a way to chart and understand their life. For me, collage became the means of expression I utilized to better comprehend my Self and my world. Through the process of choosing, cutting, and assembling images, my ideas and feelings become clearer and more pointed. In the early years of my collage making my work dealt primarily with my life-threatening situation, my sexuality and my spirituality. As one might expect, being HIV positive has been a major cause of self-reflection. The complex spectrum of emotions -- from terror and sadness to peace and joy - drove me to express, through my work, the experience to myself and to others. This piece expresses the fear and desperation I was feeling at the time. 2. "Falling #2" 14"x14" 1986 Many of the pieces I made during this period had figures falling off of cliffs, or struggling to stay afloat in deep, turbulent oceans. The pieces felt distinctly autobiographical. 3. "Love in the Courtyard" 9"x11" 1998 Similarly, making collages about my sexuality helped me understand its meaning in my life. One of the truths about being gay is that we suffer from a dearth of reflections of ourselves in the world; we grow up feeling that we are the only one who has these feelings. Growing up gay in a heterosexual world is to wonder where our emotions fit in the larger scheme of things and to constantly translate or reinterpret the images we see around us. Hetero sex and romance is taken for granted, and my collages were my way of imagining the imagery that could reflect my experience.4. "Goddess with Poodle Attendant" 6"x8" 1999 Exploring my sense of spirituality was also very important during this time. Though I was raised in a Catholic family, icons of Christianity had little relevance in my daily life. Images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin have become polluted with the Church's condemnations of who I am as a gay man. These icons have no power to connect me with the larger reality I believe is beyond the world in which we live. Because of this vacuum and my desire for connection to that reality, I created my own icons of faith. My angels and goddesses became my guides on my journey. 5. "Poodle Attendant" 4"x5" 1999 Much of my work at the time also ended up being imbued with a sense of humor. In this piece, the poodle attendant of the goddess I had been creating is also celebrated and deified. During this period I spent a lot of time going to thrift stores and yard sales to buy books which held an attraction for me. My process was to buy books with images I felt drawn to, even if I didn't have a particular plan for them. Later, in the studio, I would pull those books out one by one until an idea formed in my mind, usually via the juxtaposition of images from two or more books. So, in my process, the idea was often driven by, or came out of, the images. Sometimes I would have a particular idea I wanted to illustrate and then I would go and find the images for that piece, but mostly the process was the other way around. Sifting through images helped me understand what I was thinking and feeling. 6. "Shiva Scott #3" 6"x9" 2005 Further along, I got fancier with the deities I was creating. Having been to India several times, I was influenced by the representations of gods in Hinduism. Shiva for instance, modernized in this piece through the figure of Scott Madsen, the 1980s beefcake, Soloflex model. Scott put out a workout book which had him going through various exercises step-by-step, so it was really easy to construct a figure like this one with many arms and legs. Shiva Scott's tagline is, "A god with so many powers, he can fulfill your every need". This is also the first piece where I used cut-out rings. In this case as a background element, but in my later work you'll see how it becomes the central building block. 7. "It's Almost Time #1" 8"x9" 2006 Here is a Kali figure, also from Hindu mythology. The Shivas and Kalis in these pieces felt like beacons of hope and encouragement. The figures in these pieces enjoy a health and vitality that I know can be mine someday. They inhabit calm, bucolic, bejeweled worlds that I know are will be part of my future. 8. "Falling From the Sky Won't Hurt so Bad" 7"x9" 2006 The availability of new, more effective HIV medications profoundly changed the experience of being HIV positive from one of fear to one of hope. As HIV became more of a controllable - albeit chronic - illness, I was able to relax more. My feelings about my situation become more hopeful and lighter. The title of this piece, "Falling From the Sky Won't Hurt so Bad", mirrors my feelings. 9. "Nearly There" 9"x9" 2006 Over time, my work continues to get more and more optimistic. In this piece, titled "Nearly There", I'm feeling the relief of the stress and worry about my health and feeling like the life I always wanted to live is close at hand. The weight of the illness I had been carrying turns into light pearl balloons - a precious gift that has taught me a lot about myself. 10. "Autumn Arrival" 9"x10" 2006 "Autumn Arrival" continues the theme in the last piece. In my work, I often like to construct environments for the narrative, using open landscapes, clear, blue skies, and other natural or ancient elements. 11. "Shiva Appears at the Waterfall" 7"x10" 2006 Spirituality, hopefulness, are sexuality are all present in this piece. I find a deep sense of peace when working in symmetry. This symmetry becomes central to the work that you will see at the end of this presentation. 12. "The Evening's Secret" 9"x10" 2006 The orbs in these pieces feel like gifts being offered by the central figure - held aloft for the world to see and benefit from. 13. "Tree Pose" 7"x9" 2006 This piece shows the hopefulness I was feeling expressed in the youthful figures, a spring-like garden, and the deep, energetic connection that can exist between two people. 14. "Sky Study #4" 7"x10" 2006 At this point I start alternating between the figurative/narrative collages I had been making and abstract pieces. I was drawn to illustrating my thoughts and feelings about the benevolent energy I had been experiencing in the last few years and I felt the only way I would be able to do that was by getting more abstract. 15. "Landscape #1" 18"x6" 2006 The landscape in these pieces are filled with the benevolent energy I feel is flowing all around us all the time. I'm very drawn to open landscapes like this one. I grew up back east where the landscape is defined by town after town and deeply wooded forests - a type of landscape that might be cozy but feels tight and restricted. When I moved out to San Francisco, I got a real taste of how open and lifting the landscape can be. When I'm in a vast space - like Death Valley for example - I feel like my spirit expands to fill the entirety of it. 16. "Home of the Free" 7"x8" 2009 When I'm searching for collage materials, I like to find many examples of one type of image that I can use as building blocks to create the forms I have in mind. This piece is an example of where I used pearls and other jewels to create orbs of energy. The jewels come from stacks of jewelry auction catalogs from Christie's and Sotheby's. I'm attracted to the jewels also because of their preciousness and because some of them take - as in the case of diamonds - billions of years to form, so they feel like they are "wise" in some way. 17. "Grey Matter #2" 8"x8" 2007 These next two pieces are from a larger series of studies where I experiment further with the abstract and expressing "energy". 18. "Grey Matter #5" 8"x8" 2007 19. "Fledgling" 9"x12" 2008 In these next few pieces, I was interested in creating a picture plane that was more complex and layered than my earlier work. The pieces feel autobiographical without being specifically so. My desire was to express an emotional tone versus a particular story. 20. "Sleeping Giant" 22"x14" 2008 This piece revisits some of my earlier, HIV-related work. Here (and the next image) I experimented with breaking out of a rectangular picture frame. 21. "Equus Dreaming" 16"x12" 2008 The drapes of jewels become an element that I will use again and again in later work. In this piece in particular, the drapes feel like the drapes framing a stage, giving the piece a theatrical feel. 22. "Satellite #2" 9" diameter 2008 screws, bolts, baseball In the fall of 2009 I was the artist in residence at the San Francisco Dump for three months. When I was accepted to the program, I thought I would be making 2D collages from books I would find in the waste stream. As it turned out though, I was able to find very few books in the waste stream, so I changed tactics and started collecting material for 3D works. 23. "Satellite #2" 9" diameter 2008 suction cups, wire connectors, game pieces, ball The process was very much the same as my collage work in that I collected materials that I liked without knowing what I was going to do with them. After a period of just collecting, I started playing around with the stuff piled in the studio and came up with a series of orbs that looked to me like satellites, atoms, viruses, and allergens. 24. "Satellite #5" 9" diameter 2008 quilting pins, thread, golf ball The sizes of these pieces ranged from just a few inches - like this pin-poked golf ball - to a couple of feet in diameter. 25. "Love Comet" 27" diameter 2008 stuffed animals, thread The story behind this piece was that a man pulled up to the dump site in a nice looking Mercedes, opened his trunk and tossed out two huge garbage bags filled with stuffed animals, and then left. I found this so curious and came up with endless stories about what lead to this act. At the opening for this work, the piece was placed on a low pedestal and it was really fun to see how it immediately attracted kids who would run over and hug it. Thus the title. 26. "Allergen #2" 12" diameter 2008 floral tubes, plastic test tubes, cassette tape, lanyard, ball 27. "Inside Stillness #9" 7"x10" 2009 Back in my own studio after the residency, I floundered for a couple of months about which direction to pursue, but I picked up on the idea that I wanted to create "depth" in a series of collages which mirrored the layers of energy flowing through my body while I (briefly) practiced Qigong (a practice with roots in ancient Chinese culture dating back more than 4,000 years, involving rhythmic breathing coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement, a calm mindful state, and visualization of guiding qi through the body). 28. "Inside Stillness #10" 7"x10" 2009 Another piece from this series. The top layer is the symmetrical curling illustration of energy I was feeling flow through my body. 29. "Inside Stillness #2" 30"x40" 2010 collage on aluminum panel I wanted to make larger works based on the two earlier collages so I had images from art history books printed on a large format printer and then mounted on aluminum panel. Onto these backgrounds I used collage and acrylic paint to develop the various layers. 30. "Inside Stillness #3" 30"x40" 2010 collage on aluminum panel In this piece, the drapes of jewels I had begun to use in collages a couple of years ago, comes back as a foreground element with an intense lushness. I like the opulent feel of the jewels and the sensuousness of the draping. 31. "Inside Stillness #4" 30"x40" 2010 collage on aluminum panel In the background of this piece, you can Durand's "Kindred Spirits". In an essay about Durand's work, we learn that "they (Durand and other Hudson River School painters) shared the belief that nature, particularly nature in the New World, resonated with overtones of meaning. It was a sacred place, where true communion could bring not only joy in the beauty of the outdoors, but also enlightenment. With ink and with paint, these artists explored the tangible appearances of the natural world in search of its intangible truths." These lines resonated with me deeply as I tried to create collages that would illustrate the intangible truths I had been experiencing. 32. "Inside Stillness #6" 30"x40" 2010 collage on aluminum panel This piece was the last in the series and I took a leap by covering the deeper layers of collage with a field of "cells". These forms are drawn with hundreds of tiny acrylic paint dots. 33. "Beacon #1" 16"x10" 2011 This next series came out during the week between Christmas and New Years of 2010. This week is the darkest time of the year and, at the time, I was feeling the darkness literally and emotionally. I was thinking about the importance of lights - across cultures - at this time of year and thought I would create my own sources of light and hope. 34. "Beacon #2" 17"x10" 2011 This piece uses the image of Saul (soon to be the apostle Paul) from the Caravaggio painting "The Conversion on the Way to Damascus" as the figure yearning for the light. 35. "Beacon #3" 12"x12" 2011 I really like how these pieces feel theatrical, with the drapes of pearls and color being similar to a proscenium arch in a theater. The figures in the lower left are borrowed from "The Rape of the Sabine Women" by Nicolas Poussin. 36. "Elysium #3" 27"x39" 2011 As had been my process over the last few years, after working narratively, I was drawn once again to the abstract. This series is titled "Elysium" which refers to a conception of the afterlife that evolved in certain Greek religious and philosophical sects. Initially, admission was reserved for mortals related to the gods. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods - the righteous, and the heroic - where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life. 37. "Elysium #4" 27"x39" 2011 Throughout this series, in addition to the collaged jewel elements, I'm also using acrylic to paint the fields of dots. 38. "Elysium #5" 27"x39" 2011 The central column of overlapping ovals combined with the draping jewels in this piece reminds me of a Victorian era urn. I like the ghostly effect the dotted ovals take on in this composition, as if that urn might hold the ashes of the spirit of someone close. 39. "Elysium #6" 27"x39" 2011 Here's my attempt at a Ross Bleckner. The symmetrical lines are made up of images of rubies. 40. "Elysium #7" 27"x39" 2011 The central form in this piece is constructed from hundreds of sapphires. 41. "Talisman #1" 22"x30" 2011 This next series is titled "Talisman". A talisman is an amulet or other object considered to possess supernatural or magical powers. This series was made with the support of a grant from the Pollock-Krasner foundation. 42. "Talisman #2" 22"x30" 2011 Starting off with the columns of overlapping ovals I liked from the earlier Elysium piece, I wanted to add forms that felt ancient and filled with spirit and wisdom. 43. "Talisman #3" 22"x30" 2011 The inspiration for the silhouettes came from pottery, ritual objects retrieved from anthropological digs, the human form, etc. and then were refined until I felt they achieved some unwritten, perfect proportion. 44. "Talisman #4" 22"x30" 2011 The rings that make up the forms are individually hand cut from images of "oriental" carpets. 45. "Talisman #5" 22"x30" 2011 46. "Talisman #7" 15"x22" 2011 This next grouping continues with the Talisman theme, but are constructed a little differently, using the acrylic dots to form an additional layer to the central form. 47. "Talisman #8" 15"x22" 2011 These pieces ended up feeling a little more biological and drew some inspiration from Ernst Haeckel's work where he documented, in gorgeously detailed drawings, diatoms and other living creatures in the world's oceans. 48. "Talisman #9" 15"x22" 2011 49. "Talisman #10" 15"x22" 2011 In this piece I realized I could use different colors from different carpets to create added detail to the forms, creating a palette of different colored rings. 50. "Talisman #11" 15"x22" 2011 51. "Talisman #12" 15"x22" 2011 In my next collages, I'm feeling very drawn to further exploring colored rings and using them as the main building block.