Boundaries and the Dissolution of Boundaries
For all of my adult life, I’ve been fascinated by what it means to represent something visually. How does it happen? And where on the continuum from photographic representation to total abstraction do I want my work to be sited? Though my answers have varied, a constant has been that I want my engagement with materials to be apparent so that the means of creating the illusion of form or space are clear. Frequently, my work has focused on or relied on the use of line. Everyone makes lines. Handwriting is lines. There is space on either side of a line. If you draw an object with a contour line, what you’re doing is approximating the curves and inflections that describe the boundary between the object and the air around it. One of the reasons I have made so many drawings of flowers is that those boundaries are infinitely rich.
Though I understand the perceptual basics that enable our brains to see a line drawing as a representation, I remain fascinated by another kind of boundary, too: the one between representational line and calligraphic, gestural, directional line that describes only the motion of my arm, the energy of the piece at that moment. As my work has loosened and headed more toward abstraction, line has metamorphosed into a more general focus on mark making. Though some marks may be lines, they are freed from the need to describe an observed reference and become entities of a somewhat different sort. When marks, whether linear or otherwise, move in and out of suggesting intelligible form, the work is most alive for me.
Another long-standing interest is how to breach the boundary between visual and verbal means of expressing experience. I find combining them difficult but fascinating. I see much of my work (for example, The Broken Year) as inherently narrative even though it contains no verbal language. In other works, the verbal imagery is obvious as language becomes the composition (as in Just Before the Birth). At the other end of the spectrum, the small, typed text in That Night is an easily overlooked visual detail despite the weight it can bring to the content of the piece.
Recently, I have been working in part on old drawings or prints, reworking them, transforming them, making them other than they were. In those works, such as Refuge, it is the boundaries of time and of my own personal history that blur and intertwine.