It’s often said that you don’t know the value of something until you loose it.
For twenty years as a figure skater, I ripped through, shredded and etched ice in pursuit of meeting every challenge that faced me in the sport of skating. Everyday, the ice would start glissenning and smooth. The first steps onto it would hiss almost imperceptably. But the end of practice would reveal the opposite: a matte and rough surface. Both I and the ice were worn… all that was left was grit and scars. But as I’d look out onto that marred surface, I’d see my day, recorded in every scrape, cut, and frosty burr. A detailed accounting of my actions taken in pursuit of a dream.
Then one day, a sudden fall catapulted me out of a world of free, limitless and explorational movement. A broken knee cap, a surgery, torn and irreplaceable cartilage, a surgery… the next two years of my life became a struggle within myself to remain ‘capable’, ‘able-bodied’, ‘the athlete’ I had been or any image of the athlete I felt I needed to be. Upon the realization that I would never regain the body I’d had or the abilities I needed and had always taken for granted, I reluctantly, and with great difficulty, retired. But it is from those years forward that I have never again taken for granted the gift of movement.
In the fall of 2017, seven years after my retirement from TeamUSA, I began working on skated paintings. Each piece starts just as that flawless sheet of ice did. Then, using custom roller-skates and a set of bottles, funnels, and tubes I have devised for this work, I become a human paintbrush, letting pigments run through the wheels under my feet so as to draw onto the canvas a record of my paths. In some cases, I use synthetic ice as an underlayment and employ my skates as a press rather than a brush, picking up pigments from cuts of the past while recording the present.
In this work I contemplate my path in life as a series of actions across time. Some actions may be flawed in their effects. Some maybe more perfect than I could have wished. None are erasable. And all together, they make for a beautiful record of life.
In addition to Live Action Skate Painting, I am experimenting with blade paintings and synthetic ice prints combined with paintings. Below is a sampling of the work that has been produced from these processes.