Grad school was a time in my life when I was questioning my own mortality and feeling a sense of confusion and remorse about not being HIV positive. Having come into puberty at the onset of the AIDS crisis, I equated sex and death on a literal level.
Using appropriated imagery, I started combining or layering gay erotica of the last 25 years with images of religious paintings from the renaissance - mostly by gay painters. I don't like to use the word porn because I don't think sexuality or representations of it are pornographic. I think rape is pornographic, I think war is pornographic, I think so many other things in the world are pornographic, but I don't think sexual representations of consenting adults are.
The work I was creating became about heroicizing the sexual figures in print media — the 'gay porn star' as superhero, the idea that a 'porn' model is an ideal. They're the Harrison Ford, or Tom Cruise of fantasy. The man everyone wants to be. It's extremely superficial and artificial, yet something we all grasp towards in different ways, reaching out to different things.
It became a new iconography, an artificial one, but one with roots in desire. One that questioned the things we idealize.