THE ART, THE ARTIST, AND THE WHY
The thrill of creating tape art is derived from taking something mundane - ordinary duct tape that you can find at Home Depot - and transforming it into something with form and meaning and life.
The actual process of making tape art is fairly straightforward. I find a wood substrate, preferably one with a smooth surface that will allow for good adhesion. I then cover it with at least two layers of colored duct tape, often more. On the top layer I draw out the image that will be portrayed, and I mark the spaces that will have certain colors. Once the outlines of the image are in place, I trace out those same lines with an X-acto knife, cutting deep enough to go through all the layers. And once this is accomplished, I carefully pull back layers of tape revealing the desired color for each space of the composition.
Warning: tape art is not for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is very hard on the hands.
I'm a physician by day, artist and tinkerer by night. I have two beautiful children and a wife who indulges my artistic endeavors. Lucky guy indeed.
Tape art first came to my attention as a "thing" in 2013 while surfing the web. I came across an artist from Portland named "Mona Superhero" who had constructed a series of fantastical and, sometimes risqué, portraits out of duct tape. I'd never seen anything like it and quickly decided that it was something to try but in a more basic form. The first few pieces I attempted were based on woodcut prints by the great Belgian artist Frans Masereel. I replaced the basic black and white of paper and ink with the loudest colors of tape I could find, flaming red with neon yellow, dark purple with lime green, etc. The pieces were great and I was hooked.
This project "New Orleans Makes 300" was imagined in mid 2016. I had just deconstructed my first exhibition of tape art which was a series of portraits of New Orleans musicians (https://nola-tape-art.weebly.com/). The show was a financial success, the feedback was positive, and I was inspired to pursue a new series with more of a conceptual bent. With the coming Tricentennial of New Orleans it occurred to me that there was an opportunity to do something audacious - to portray the entirety of New Orleans history with tape.
I picked up as many books on New Orleans history as a I could find. I read Richard Campanella's great book "Bienville's Dilemma" which has a detailed timeline of the city's history. From that volume and a few others, I made a list of the moments that I thought were ripe for portrayal, and then I began to experiment. As things stand right now, I've completed 62 pieces. I have about ten more that I'd like to complete before calling it a day.
New Orleans has been my home since 1992. It's a love it or hate it kind of town. It's definitely not for everyone, but I was in the the "love it" category from the start and basically spent my 20s turning into an adult here (arguable by some). If you live here long enough you come to see that really big things happen here. The culture, the food, the partying, the creativity, and even the people's bodies are big. But one of the big things that people generally neglect to think about is the history. From the time of Bienville to the modern era, there were diseases that wiped out entire neighborhoods, there were fires that turned the city into ash, there were hurricanes that killed thousands and left thousands more homeless, there were riots that led to mass lynchings, there were military assaults that brought on martial law, and on and on and on. In my 25 years here, I've lived through a few events of historic import - Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, the removal of Jim Crow era monuments, the election of the city's first female mayor. For better or worse, this town is always interesting and, for better or worse, I've continued to love it and root for it. And that is the why.
THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS AND MY THOUGHTS ON THE HISTORY, THE ART, AND THE APPROACH TO THE PROJECT ARE STILL EVOLVING. IF YOU HAVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK, SEND IT MY WAY VIA A MESSAGE BELOW.
ALSO, I'M LOOKING FOR VENUES TO DISPLAY THIS RATHER ENORMOUS PROJECT. A VENUE IN NEW ORLEANS IS THE OBVIOUS CHOICE, BUT I THINK THE PROJECT WOULD DO WELL IN A NUMBER OF CITIES. MANY OF THESE PIECES ARE 4'X5' OR LARGER AND THE PROJECT WILL REQUIRE A FAIRLY LARGE SPACE TO DISPLAY IN ITS ENTIRETY. IF YOU KNOW OF A SPACE OR INSTITUTION OR VENUE THAT WOULD WORK, LET ME KNOW!