What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I have been involved in map making, encyclopedia sales, picture framing, waiting tables, advertising, editorial photography, and photographic ghostwriting. I do love the pairing that I have in my life right now, which is making art and teaching, but if I had to do something different, I think I would have been a musician, scientist, architect, or maybe something nutty that involves nature and survival. Maybe this is why I became an artist—I can incorporate or use any of this stuff whenever I want.
When did you know you were going to be an artist?
I fantasized about being an artist in elementary school, when I had this very inspirational art teacher. But if I had to choose a particular point in time, I think it became apparent when I was 19 and worked in the photographic division of a university science department. The very generous guy that I worked for gave me unlimited access to his darkroom and that was it—everything just exploded from there. I spent many all-nighters in that lab.
What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?
I have lots of little things around but I always have my picture of Glenn Gould, a postcard of this amazing Van Gogh drawing, an image of Yves Klein’s Leap Into the Void, a picture of my oldest friend and myself in Nepal crossing over the Ganjala Pass, and five different announcement cards from shows that I saw in the early ’90s: Bruce Nauman, Matthew Barney, Terry Adkins, Roni Horn, and Terry Winters—all artists that were very inspiring to me when I started my life in New York.
Which artist would you most like to have dinner with, from any time in history?
This seems like a question designed to torture me.