A mixed-media series. (Webpage under construction.)
What is the experience of being present? I wrestled most with this question alongside a young toddler, the ultimate exemplar of curiosity, close looking, and presentness, who consistently exercised my patience. It takes patience to be present.
I explored this question in the studio, a kind place more familiar with planning and execution. But once a brush is hovering full of wet black ink above a sheet of paper there isn’t much time for planning. There are media that don’t so much invite as require presentness. Similarly, there are approaches that require it: drawing a long, smooth line that doesn’t break, turn awkwardly, or chatter. There is music for presentness: chanting. Shapes for presentness: the infinity loop. And even words, like “now.”
My exploration of the ways to represent “now” have evolved into strands of related projects. One strand of this work takes its inspiration from Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs, a work comprised of a physical chair, a photograph of that chair, and a print of the dictionary definition of “chair.” I use the same format, representing an idea in three distinct ways, but my subject is “now”: text of the word “now,” a line drawing (requiring concentration), and a gesture painting (requiring bold impulse).
Another exploration is an audio work. I imagine one voice speaks phrases that describe moments of being present, like “look at a window screen then the sky behind it,” or “try to be as quiet as possible.” Another overlapping voice of a child tells a slow and meandering story. I hope that together they might speak to the joys and frustrations of being present.
Another exploration has a defined set of parameters: paper size (roughly the dimensions of a scroll) and pattern (a repeating loop). I fill the defined page with the defined pattern. And then I do it again. I repeat this again and again, using a variety of media so the resulting drawings are simultaneously identical and completely different, like the sun rising and setting on two different days. Some drawings may be ugly. Some beautiful, boring, or even gruesome. The point is to create an experience of daily life lived with honesty, acceptance, and ultimately grace.
These are various inquiries into presentness as a concept and a lived experience that can bring joy and require endurance.