Ties That Bind In my "Ties that Bind" series I attempt to explore the subject of bondage and its relationship to intimacy and the use of power in relationships of all types. As an artist, I find the visceral implements of bondage both beautiful and formally compelling. I believe the leather straps, masks, and metal collars and chains add both strength and vulnerability to the painted figures. To me, they make the nudes more intimate and meditative, a quality I wanted to evoke in my work. The bound figures in the paintings are expressing an openness to intimacy, a desire to bond. The bond they seek is not located in eros, but in trust, in spiritual union. Of course, I am well aware of the more typical depictions of bondage in our culture. Like many others, I have been both fascinated by the "raw" materials of bondage and made uncomfortable by its representations in popular culture. Paradoxically, and surprisingly, I found that the act of painting subjects "in bondage" required a great deal more trust and intimacy in my relationship with the models than other types of work. There was a heightened sense of collaboration between artist and model. It was as if adding the "representations" of submission made it possible for greater openness on both sides. Bondage restricts movement - it is a form of sensory deprivation. The subject's energy and attention becomes focused. More can be captured and conveyed in the image. I felt the strength and purpose of my subjects, and I attempted to convey this in the images. To me, a relationship exists on these canvases. And yet, I am also aware that to some viewers, the bondage renders the subjects as objects, their gaze suppressed, suggesting a total absence of power. In fact, many people were very strong in their responses to this work- expressing a range from discomfort to total disapproval. The experience of others' interpretations of the work in progress became part of the process as I continued to work on these paintings. The act of painting became more and more open. For me, the strong reactions provoked by the work suggested how individual our responses to the "Ties that Bind" are. Many people suggested the images reminded them of their own "bondage" in relationships. Others saw only a very specific, sometimes demeaning sexual relationship. Some saw a powerful erotic and exciting depiction of sexuality. A few people found the images sad and lonely. Others felt the figures, their muscularity lined by the leather and metal, conveyed great power and presence. It seems that the physical and metaphysical manifestations of bondage exist on many levels. In my experience, they are as varied as the people who view the work. I think these paintings provide an opportunity for viewers to consider and uncover their own responses to the "binds" in life, whether they be erotic, physical, emotional, subliminal or spiritual. As an artist, when I look at this work, I feel I have made contact.