Studies in Impermanence: Islands, Rivers, and Stones
"What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek."
--- Annie Dillard
I am most inspired by processes in nature, which can be thought of as metaphors for our own growth as human beings. Excavation, erosion, metamorphosis, germination, and growth are all forces that shape the earth in each minute aspect of life, continues to be incredible and mysterious to me.
I am interested in both the microscopic and cosmic worlds. I hope to reveal deeper relationships through art that explores the growth process of all things. The implications of converging and diverging forces upon us and within us, and the structure of things in the universe compel me.
What ultimately permeates the surface of our experience is the inescapable impermanence of life, and the ever-changing quality of nature.
Yet it is easy to become overwhelmed by all this. As humans we seek stability and structure. We yearn a solid ground to stand on and we rely on our ability to discern what is constant from what is fleeting. Ultimately, we meet that inescapable painfulness when our perception deceives us.
One thing is for certain: change is constant. When we connect with this we feel some room to be imperfect, to be genuine. The inherent spaciousness around us is illuminated, and with it a freedom. These are instructive moments, in which our hearts touch on something real, something we can truly experience.
All the works here connect to the natural landscape that is always subject to erosion and change. We can touch and feel a stone, bathe in a river, walk on a shore, and, indeed, these are the pure moments that stop our turbulent minds from thinking. But they are also aspects of ourselves we can connect with, geographical spaces representing psychological elements.
Like rivers we rush and swell. We can be abrasive to our fellow others, overflow our banks when things get stormy. Certainly we all recall days when we become murky and stagnant in against the days we babble like brooks. We drift, we ebb and flow, yet we always push on. Even when we think we have stopped, our minds are always moving. We move forward wandering looking for the delta waiting for the sea.
“Form is emptiness and emptiness is form” says the Heart Sutra, the sacred Buddhist text on the nature of reality. I have tried to wrap my mind around this many times. Nothing has illuminated the meaning of this for me more than the experience of drawing; when an edge can cease to be an edge as easily as it becomes one made distinct only by the color or weight of its neighbor, the pressure with which it is made, or the strength of its perimeters.
As toddlers we begin drawing clusters, our minds try to find groupings that we fill with abstract marks of our making. We try to con-figure, animate, personify. We evolve, drawing bold outlines that favor the concrete separation of one thing from another, and attempt to stay inside the lines.
But as adults, we find the world full of nuances and relativities. We learn that people see things differently but we still want the absolute in favor of predictability, even though reality tells us another story.
Perhaps the emotional landscape of the mind is an island of its own in an ocean of emotion, dialectical and full of complexity lacking edges. We feel multiple truths at the same time. Other times the image – the idea full of strong, jagged edges and defined shores – seems so certain, We hang our hopes on certainty, perhaps because we like to think we know. We like to think we had a hunch.
Storms change us, we swing back on forth. We erupt like volcanoes. Edges are something, only to become nothing. We do not see in between the lines that they are one and the same. The true self finds freedom in this. The artist finds liberty; inspiration and process are both one and the same. The hand becomes invisible. The line is tangible then broken, made and re-made.
Like stones we are shaped, crushed, windswept, and tumbled along the bottom of the sea with all the other fish only to be smoothed and polished into rosy quartz or sparkly gneiss, and left to be picked up by an adoring child.
I wanted these pieces to feel like skin. Originally, I referenced manatees and whale images that had been injured by boat propellers and inhumane hunting, and my intention was to find a way to bring in elements of the fragile ecosystem that is vanishing under present global climate conditions.
I built them up in layers to create a natural elasticity. Like skin it is both visceral and alive and also dying with each breath passing. Like all art they developed a life of their own and also became stone-like. This quality for me still captured the overall concept of impermanence. I liked that both ideas contrast against each other and brought together cold and heavy with light and buoyant.
What captures the quality of change more than water?
I have spent most of my life near water, observing shores and collecting the most interesting assortment of beautiful debris from the ocean and river. The many textures and edges of sediment, rocks, and shells sharpen the eyes. I hung these pieces up in order to fill and transform an unusual space. I wanted the movement of light and air to affect them. I wanted viewers to look through them, rather than at them.
As a force, water cleanses, transforms, shapes and carves away the landscape, cutting out great canyons, or adding new layers of sediment to the earth. I reflect on its essence and the way our thoughts move through time.
I am also interested in the relationship between geographical spaces and psychological landscapes. We are like solitary islands formed from a larger mass and exposed; uplifted, shaped, and released into the greater ocean to find our own way.
When we connect with the spaciousness around us we are no longer alone and the island within us glows with joy. When we connect with spaciousness it isn't that we merely dilate, rather our edge and that of what seperate sus ceses to be.
The nuance of textures evokes a great song inside of me. In the attempt to find myself between the land and the vastness of the horizon, I am reminded of the smallness of my being and the constant ebb and flow of change.
The motion of sewing for me evokes the feeling of drawing, working with line as a way of leading the eye. The gathering up of two parts, once disconnected, now joined through the process of alteration, tearing and stitching has a particular intimacy in the hands.