On connecting the dots

It is always so helpful to get a good shove in the right direction. I am grateful to have received one in the form of a Creation Grant from ArtsNB. Though I am always a little shy with projects at this stage (before I can point to an object and say “Look there! That is what I mean!”), I would nonetheless like to share my proposal with you. It will give you an idea of where I am coming from as this project unfolds, beginning in October. I hope you will be as excited as I am to get started!

Black-eyed Susan


Standing at any point in a room, we receive light from all around. It converges in our minds and informs us of the world outside. But we are also reflecting light. At a point two feet away, our image is found there with all the others. This fact speaks of connection. We perceive ourselves as contained systems, but in real, physical ways, we are blended with the outside world.

To date, my work has focused largely on pairing technology (us) with nature (outside) to make the connections apparent. I am finding this approach too subtle. This new body of work will show the connective tissue, the ripples of light, between the subjects. To understand the imagery I will be working with, envision the following:

“Thus every body placed in the light spreads out in circles and fills the surrounding space with infinite likenesses of itself and appears all in all in every part.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

I will construct the rippled compositions by digitally blending and repeating photographs. From these designs will grow nine low-relief works, twelve square feet and up, with some taller than a person. They will be exhibited as a labyrinth of freestanding panels whose adjoining imagery brings to mind a single continuous work. Four months of consistent practice will see them finished and provide a jumping off point to complex sculpture in the same vein.

This project will explore a variety of textile-infused techniques. I have been evolving a silk quilt process which makes use of hand-painted and digitally printed cloth. The ripple concept also lends itself to scaled-up tapestry, woven using large tubes of printed photograph. Several of these works will have a person-shaped hole or reflective surface in the center, immersing the viewer in the rippled connectome. Every aspect of this project is built to amplify the sense of connection to the world outside.

Garden Person

On getting my work to ask the hard questions:

The other week at an opening there were a number of you who said “I can feel the conflict between industry and nature in your work.” This, in its way, made me sad, for in making the work I felt a harmonious combining of the two.

But the artist makes only one half of the work. The rest is all you, and I am so privileged to learn your side. It lets me know who you are, the other, and how I can talk to you. To state your thoughts lets my work know you and dialogue back.

Leaf Filled

I noticed – hey – I know now what that person feels about industry/nature. My work asked them that question and I didn’t even know it. I thought I was trying to tell them something. But my work had other plans. It was curious.

Meditation cushion print

A thing that comes up in my reading/listening a lot: the idea of making art based on questions, not answers. Answers and truths are illusory. This is a controversial stance. I’m not placing it as an argument but rather a hypothesis. In my experience, personal truths (are there other kinds?) are transitory.

Seasonal trees block

Out in the people world, I find it difficult sometimes to talk to people about — people things. I’m not very good at it. I mean about families, spouses, heartbreaks, haircuts, injuries. These are relevant and important, but I am private in ways and just not very good at sharing back.

On the other hand, I am crazy to learn what projects/ideas/innovations/science/stories/techniques/places/spaces/perspectives/mind-tricks keep you awake at night. You know what? Sometimes its really hard to get people into those conversations. I learned a secret pass-phrase to get right in there, but some things are just tricky.

decal blocking x 2

So I’ll get my art to do it. Then go places with it. It’ll be my wingman.

Hey guy, my art says. Quick, what do I make you think of? Wear it all over your face.

On the white glow of the lightbulb:

Watercycle Sketches_0001

A sketch is such an immaculate conception. Before colour: form. A curving mass of lines. Possibility. Perfection.

The curse of being an idea-generating machine is that no creation will ever be as perfect as its conception

I know that once I take the mathematical entity off the page it starts to flaw, to differentiate. Even now, it is a pure white ruse. It is the idea of a thing.

White Lightbulb Blog Post_1

The debate – will you breathe life into that symbol and make it concrete? The source of all delay.

A sketch is like an object of the mind, perhaps impenetrable to others but immediately provocative to the artist. An artist looks at their own idea and sees the possibilities in flux. It is a great excitement.

White Lightbulb Blog Post

An object of the mind is non-communicative. In must be translated. It must be narrowed into a coherent statement and transmitted. It must be painted with actual colours and not all the colours at once.

Leaf toy_2

Because the white of the page contains the full spectrum of outcomes for that take. The terror is that none of the options are the full entity. You can never fully communicate what the mind sees in shapes. You can never fully say what you mean to say. You are compelled to try a different angle on another day. But by then you are changed.

White Lightbulb Blog Post_2

And that is fine. And I accept that.

It is better to say something than to live and die in the sheer white of possibility.

And anyway sometimes I am talking to myself.

Restful stones.

Check it out, my stones have arrived:

Rock On – Spirit Cloth

She has gathered 168 stones since she put out the call on May 11th. How cool is that? And how beautiful that so many people who will never spend time together are spending time doing exactly the same thing. That is a different sort of togetherness than physical presence. I guess I never really realized how many makers there are in the world.

Let the time pass by.

I, like every other, think about time all of the time. I worry the premise until it is soft like a river stone. But I have been thinking lately that maybe this is the wrong approach.

It seems the more you fuss about it the faster it passes (or alternately slow, when you are fussing about it at work). My goal being of course the extension of time, I think it is best to ignore it entirely.

Even when you are in a rush. The more you focus on that rush the more it distracts you from getting the thing done, from doing things one at a time. Even more this focus on rush overwhelms me and leads me to procrastinate.

I have a difficult relationship with focus. I don’t remember that problem when I was younger. I suspect I do it to myself, like most things we do. I know it’s not a mental illness. Distraction just is.

And plus, there are these times of perfect clarity, so I know it lives inside of me. When I have zero time left to do something, I lapse into a hard-line focus. It feels wonderful. I think of nothing else but the task at hand.

This is the reason I am so fond of test-taking. For some reason, when I take tests I can be nervous as all hell right off the gate, but once I read the first question I relax. My internal monologue disappears one hundred percent. All I do for as long as it takes is test-take. And it rocks.

I think maybe when I’m not in these moments of pressure, I am out of focus not because I am not exercising focus but because I am exercising it on too many things at once. From  “This is taking so long” to “I’m never going to get this done in time” to “I can make that decision later” to “I wish I could read my book now”, I run through a thousand negatively shaped, time-worry thoughts.

Enough! I refuse to allow myself to cater to these whims. It is a rumour that we are not in control of our own thought patterns. This rumour comes from needing to trust what our minds tell us, from everyday sensory information to danger recognition. But in the case of the nagging monologue, it is a false prophet.

I suspect that in order to act as compassionate beings, we have to worry what others think. We have to play pretend that we are them and not us, that we are judging ourselves from the outside. But we are not the outside. We are ourselves. And I for one must cut myself some slack.

If I learned anything from quitting smoking it is that the mind can be convinced to do anything if it is framed positively. And anything can be framed positively. If I can quit smoking, I can learn to savour the passage of time.

Time is our only path to the present. Without it we would have all moments at once, and none to experience. The present is the gift time presents to us. We should not look a gift horse in the mouth. Anticipation is all very well and good, but we cannot spend all of our time in that realm and none experiencing what we have been waiting for.

Time will pass. Let the time pass by.