Sum of the Parts
I began this body of work feeling scattered, a little spent and rudderless, then walloped by unrelenting heat, the worst in my memory, and I’m a lifelong Texan. My garden became a dust bowl. Although my studio AC ran constantly, it couldn’t get below 87 most afternoons. Beyond the walls of my studio, fires and floods were happening seemingly everywhere, and the Arctic ice cap was melting four times faster than scientists had previously understood. I felt exhausted from the challenge to maintain hope.
I decided to just keep at the work, following curiosity, making pieces that reflected my scattered consciousness. Showing up in my studio daily turned out to be a hopeful act in itself. I started to see any number of directions I could take. I began a series of (30+) tiny paintings; 8 x 10” each, all oils on oil paper. I tried to just let the ideas flow, keeping my judgments to a minimum, just painting. Images that seemed more significant found their way into larger paintings. These tiny artworks are beginnings– little totems of my psyche, hung on one wall in small, intuitive groupings that are meant to be rearranged and added to over time. I imagine that every time I rearrange them, I’ll see new insights and patterns.
At the same time, I began a series of small altar pieces; 3 wood panels hinged together to become freestanding. As a kid, I was a fervent Catholic. I loved the stories and the religious pictures and the drama, but I dropped Catholicism when I knew I wanted to have sex outside of marriage. I also felt a little betrayed by the religion itself. I’ve mostly shied away from religious iconography, or even references, in my art. But it’s inside me still. I’ve always been attracted to altar-like compositions that honor a central figure– usually a tree, in my work. In some ways, I’ve honored nature the way one would a saint. Square canvases (and I use them a lot) force a centering of a subject in an honorific way. I’m ready to explore my version of religious iconography.
I’m in for the long haul, my art-making is a continuum and I don’t care if I ever finish. I guess the tally for the SUM of the parts is never final. This is my definition of hope.