Tom Butler

Region: Northeast


City / State: Portland, ME

I am fascinated by the twin human desires to hide and perform. In a visual way, I collect memories, thresholds, and hiding places and attempt to remanufacture them. My work expresses my natural inclination toward introversion and the opposition of publicly displaying artwork essentially about hiding—a process I call “conspicuous invisibility.”

For the last four years, I have been appropriating anonymous photographs, etchings, and postcards and painting personal symbols such as hair, hoods, and masks in gouache on their surfaces. In doing so, I reveal aspects of the imagined inner personality of the sitter while cloaking it with parts of myself. I use these portraits as psychological clotheshorses on which to create grotesque and sinister scenarios, enabling me to project thoughts, fears, and anxieties in an immediate and direct way, often with a macabre sense of humor.