Thursday, January 27, 2011

Notes from Artist Statements: 2001

•In painting, I am interested in the body’s immobility.  But I look to a bodily stasis whose cause is rooted in reverie or fascination.
•The whole body apparently turns toward the place of fascination, or what I call the longed-for object, and then remains there, transfixed and longing.
The perceived vastness justifies the longing but never explicates it, and so longing continues. 
I am human, and I want something palpable, and I want to make images, so first I image the body’s stillness. 
Secondly I imagine what is seen.  A sort of explosion.  A clearing space.  A never ending area.  Maybe the place at the top of a great height.  That which should not go together goes together.
My paintings move alongside these experiences.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Notes from Artist Statements: 2000

•“Escaping the imaginary totalizations produced by the eye, the everyday has a certain strangeness that does not surface, or whose surface is only its upper limit, outlining itself against the visible.”   Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life
•The world is stranger than we know.
•A kind of landscape appears, an odd order.  The paintings are a personal grace, moments when all the flickering observings deign to coalesce, before scattering and mutating once again.
•“The human imagination is spatial and it is constantly constructing an architectonic whole from landscapes remembered or imagined; it progresses from what is closest to what is farther away, winding layers or strands around a single axis, which begins where the feet touch the ground.” Czeslaw Milosz, Where I Am

Monday, January 24, 2011

Notes from Artist Statements: 1999

February 1999
•“These fragments are the disjecta membra (scattered parts) of an elusive, coveted and vaguely scented knowledge.”  Guido Ceronetti, The Science of the Body
•My work habits suggest nailing down, when really I am more interested in what is left elusive.
•“strange speech”
•I realize I am attracted to the notion of strange speech because so often what arrives as the material for my making is garbled and clipped.  A bit of.  A nuance.  A moment.  The forms are usually made before they are known—almost always in fact.  And so in effect, I work in the dark.  The struggle comes in the fight between wanting to name them and letting them be long enough so that I may eventually observe a glimpse of what these things really ARE. 

Today I tracked down all the artist statements of mine I could find.  My gathering is in response to the fact that I begin writing for tenure this semester...a long, long process of combing through and compiling ALL I have done as an artist and teacher over the last five years.  For now I am focused on writing my "creative" activities statement--the statement all about what I make and why.  A useful way to begin seemed to be a stab at reading through everything I've written about my work since graduate school, and I must say the activity was gratifying.  I realize that despite the change in appearance, my work has consistently grappled with the same themes and ideas, over and over and in different ways, for the last eleven years at least.  

Above I post sections pulled from a first year graduate statement.  The "struggle" remains the same; the quest for "strange speech" is constant. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Slow Year

I lazily enjoy my final week of winter break, as on the 11th I return to teaching.  And so the days are full of syllabi writing, walking along the frozen, cracking ground of North Carolina winter, kimchee making (my husband is on roll and these jars are truly lovely--I will post pics soon as they are infinitely aesthetic and worthy of contemplation by any painter) and reading--The Cookbook Collector, Water for Elephants, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and waiting at my bedside...The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

I am not one to make resolutions, but this year, this spring, I am hoping to preserve stillness in my life--somehow, somehow?!  How?!!  Over the last year I've become attuned and quite clear on what non-stillness feels like in my head and in my body.  Stillness feels infinitely better, is infinitely better in terms of quality of living/being.  A good friend sent me a chapter from Scott Russell Sanders book Conservationist Manifesto.  The chapter is called Stillness, and it is perfectly prefaced by this quote by Blaise Pascal:
I have concluded that the whole misfortune of men comes from a single thing, and that is their inability to remain at rest in a room. 

Why do I feel compelled to write of stillness on this blog--a studio blog?  For me the ability to "hear myself"--which is another way of naming what I mean when I think of holding onto stillness--has long been linked to who I am as an artist.  In the days when I was a voracious journal-writer, I often noted the change internally when I was away from my journal of the moment--I couldn't hear myself very well.  I knew the difference between really hearing myself, and not hearing myself, and I knew that not hearing myself impacted the joy and connection I held for making things.  I still make things whether I hear myself or not, but when I settle enough to sense the inside cadences of my mind, I open out into the knowledge that what I do has legs extending further, deeper down into those questions asked by men and women for all of time--who are we?  Why do we function as we do?  Why do we tingle with such wrenching human poignance?