THE SUBSTANCE OF MATTER: Vis Arts Gibbs Street Gallery 2018
THE SUBSTANCE OF MATTER
Careful observation is at the core of my practice. An appreciation for the complexities of the natural world drives my desire to work slowly and methodically, meditatively building one small element on top of another. The deliberate process of meticulously drawing and cutting everything by hand allows for a more intimate examination of the materials, which in turn draws me closer to the subject. The methodical pouring of thin layers of paint and the waiting for it to dry requires great patience and the opportunity for reflection. Once the observational drawings are complete, I then stop looking and start responding to the essence of my experience. How did it feel to be in the presence of the hot springs in Yellowstone? Not just how did it look, but how did it feel? This is where the more imaginative elements of the drawing come into play.
The Substance of Matter is a series of works that resulted from my observations of three elements in nature: Water, Air and Rocks. “Rocks” is a result of a winter residency in Wyoming in 2018. “Water” is derived from observations of sea grass, as well as, the mineral pools in Yellowstone National Park. “Air” is a response to a flock of chimney swifts that migrate every year to my neighborhood. All of these elements in nature behave and respond to their surroundings in different ways, yet they all have the same planet in common and are all interconnected.
This first Portfolio is about Air and Water:
Birds represent the opposite of stillness. Birds and air are inextricably bound. Air is ethereal and illusive and can literally slip through your fingers. While humans only dream of being able to fly, birds have harnessed the power of air to defy gravity and travel unimaginable distances. Every year around late September, a flock of chimney swifts stop over in Baltimore during their fall migration south. At the end of my street stands an old bookbinding factory with an enormous abandoned chimney. Each night, at dusk, thousands of chimney swifts gather near the factory to engage in a swirling whirlpool of motion before diving head first into the chimney for a good night’s sleep. This installation depicts the spiraling motion of the birds as they prepare for their dive. I have always been mesmerized by their ability to plunge one at a time into the chimney at top speed without ever crashing into one another.
The birds are composed of Japanese wood veneer paper. They are formed by burning and laser cutting. Each bird is dipped in melted wax and attached to the wall with an entomological pin. As the birds get closer to their destination their shape morphs into an abstract form. The flow of the birds becomes a wind tunnel. The painted wall represents what I imagine is happening to the air as a result of the many bodies careening through space.
Of course, we all know that everything is made of water, or at least formed by water, but do we really examine the infinite ways that water presents itself? Whether in a wave in the ocean or in our bodies, water is moving all the time. Water is shaping the land, shaping the rocks, shaping the clouds. Water is reflecting color, illuminating minerals, and transforming things that lay beneath it. “Mineral Pool” came from my observations of the reflecting colors in the hot springs at Yellowstone in February. The pure beauty of these pools is awe-inspiring. There are no other words to describe it.