|Jimmy Talarico | Artist
The base of my work typically begins with a wax and ash slurry spread over raw canvas. The wax I use is from candles I purchase at local thrift stores for a very specific reason, they have a memory. These candles were most likely purchased for a happy occasion, be it a wedding, birthday, romantic dinner, etc., but at some point they were devalued and given up. I wonder if they were discarded with a feeling of pain, sadness, anger, or apathy? The ash I use is from discarded cardboard typically seen as waste from consumer purchases. Fire has been symbolic of purification and is used in this way when the cardboard is burned. The "purified" ash mixed with the devalued wax creates a textured black slurry that is troweled onto raw canvas, shaped, and allowed to dry. I may use other materials in my work depending on what is needed for the concept, ie. plaster, fabric, wood, flowers, metal. Color also plays an important part in my work. It is intentionally used in contrast to the black of the ash, its application being affected by the texture of the dried slurry.
The concept of my work begins first with the realization that we all have issues of low self-worth at some level, and these issues are typically hidden behind masks that try to emphasize our strengths. We are reluctant to be vulnerable even to those closest to us out of fear of being hurt or rejected. But beauty comes through shared moments of vulnerability that produce intimacy and the ideal of unconditional love; the ability to see past one's faults and appreciate another human being for the complete creation he or she is. Secondly, the concept of my work desires to help heal hurts and add value to those who are broken. One defining moment for this desire came when my son was 7 years old. I was reading an article one Saturday morning about child soldiers in Africa and there was a picture of a boy my son's age holding an AK-47. The article was about the atrocities these children are forced to endure including forced killings and drug addictions. It was heart breaking. At that moment my son ran into my room excited because that was the day I had promised we could go buy him a toy he wanted because of how good he had been... The contrast between the lives of these two boys was striking. Through that experience I noticed a correlation between my work with individual self-worth and bigger issues of social justice. Author and speaker John Maxwell says, "Hurting people hurt people." So treating others with love and respect is a way to stop the cycle of hurt. I work with the hope that my art may inspire others to add value to people and to help slow injustice even if it is one person at a time.
My work reflects these concepts first in the wonder of the material. The odd combination of wax and ash strike a curiosity about the work, much like an exposed fault or deformity that is honest while in the open. The texture is surprising at first because it is not "normal" for a piece of wall art. But the curiosity leads to an appreciation as the viewer realizes he is on the verge of a new understanding. Colors are an emotional decision within my work based on what the piece is saying to me. It is through the act of "listening" that I am able to draw the soul of the idea out of the piece. Words are also important to my work. How a piece is named influences how a viewer sees it and how it is understood. At the core of every piece is an exploration into hope, vulnerability, and the quest for courage.