When I first began my journey into the world of lightpainting I had no idea how much my work would be transformed, nor how many people would gravitate toward my images. I discovered this style of photography during a trip to Chicago, when I saw a lot of the city's photographers doing this style of work. "How are they doing this, & what are they using," I wondered. I began pouring in some research on social media and Instagram studying every single image and hashtag until I noticed recurring keywords, which ultimately gave me the answers I wanted. After some heavy Googling & hours going over-and-over YouTube videos I finally felt like I had the know how to do my first lightpainting. After that first night of lightpainting I knew I had discovered something magical I wanted to continue to refine & perfect.
Upon learning this skill I began to seek out locations within the state of Mississippi I could practice my newfound art. The first concern I had was being caught by the local law enforcement. "What would they think if they saw me spinning flaming material within their city limits?" I had to be sneaky the first few times I spun in Jackson, & did so by going underneath bridges & down abandoned trails. A few times I even set some of the surrounding grass on fire, & was fearful that without a fire extinguisher I could never risk doing this near buildings in fear of sending them up in flames. Eventually I found a safe haven where I could do my steel wool lightpaintings with my worry: Belhaven Beach. The are contains plenty of sand so I no longer had the worry of burning any grass, and if anything got out of hand there was a flowing source of water nearby with the Pearl River.
After several months of spinning fire at the river I became a regular at the beach becoming known by many as the man who spins the fire. Many of the people I met at Belhaven Beach have come onto become some of my current best friends, and those relationships were all forged with the appreciation of watching these lightpaintings in action. With the help of my friends, I was able to put together some of my most impressive images and do them in a place that was so Mississippian. Unlike my counterparts in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities I did not have an urban environment in which to create my lightpaintings so I had to use what was available. As it turned out, my work was exactly what a man by the name of Steve Clark was looking for to open the new Mississippi Contemporary Art Center; a style of art that was current in this day and age, yet still managed to harken back to the Deep South roots of the Mississippian life.
Today, I am honored to be the first artist for the Mississippi Contemporary Art Center and to be able to use my work to pave the way for other creative people in this state. The title of the show,"Start The Fire" was decided upon after much thought and deliberation. After many back-and-forth emails between myself and Steve, I came up with the title to represent multiple beginnings. "Start The Fire" not only marks the beginning of the MCAC in Jackson, but it is also metaphorical in the way that it alludes to an artist's creative spark, as well as being my first solo outing as an artist. It is meant to imply that in a place where there was once darkness and the unknown, things which have been hidden are about to be brought to life and illuminated. It is my absolute pleasure to bring my works to life for all of you to see on December 2nd, when "Start The Fire" debuts at its opening reception.
My journey toward "Start The Fire" has truly been one for the ages, and though I could not have forseen the exact extent at which my first lightpainting would take me back in February, I had the deep feeling that it was going to change my life in a monumental way. Much of my work would not have been possible without the love and support of family and friends. I am truly blessed to say that this art has helped me forge some of my best friendships. I have met so many people doing this that it is impossible to name each individual for fear of forgetting. These flaming lightpaintings have brought me in contact with some of the brightest, most caring individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I have made friends from sharing these lightpainting experiences who are now as close to me as family members. The images, themselves, are not only a reflection of the movements my body and the tools I use make. My lightpaintings are invocative of my inner emotions and feelings, and this is evident in the force and directions in which I spin my fire. Nothing about the work I do is particularly easy. I have produced just as many flops in this journey as I have what people consider being masterpieces. Also, my own body has been affected by this work as I have three very pronounced scars from times I have burned myself creating this art. If I did not feel my work was making a difference in the community, then I would cease all production, but as of now that is not the case.
At this moment I would like to extend a special thanks to all who helped me make it this far. I would like to thank the crews of people who have been present, and involved with helping me set up shoots, and I would especially like to extend a thank you to my fellow fire spinners. You guys are my family. To all my mentors, and organizations who have supported me in this crazy endeavor I want to say how much in debt I am to the encouragement you guys give me. As this journey comes to a close I would like to thank you all, and let you know how absolutely epic it has been. You guys have been there for me during some of my greatest moments of growth, both as a man and as a creative individual and for that there is nothing I can give except to keep on with the work you guys have helped me to create. Now, the time has come for me to showcase to all of you have have been there along this ride, and for the world at large just now finding out who I am the mastery of my craft. Let's start the fire.