I would like to start this post off by giving out some thank yous. First, I would like to thank everyone who made it out to see the show in person. And a big thank you to Dena Haden and the Co+ Creative Center for the opportunity to show my work. It was a really personal show for me. And a bigger thanks to New Bedford, MA based writer, educator and all around awesome collaborator who penned and/or typed out a wonderful essay for my show, Nick LeBlanc. Clearly he has given a lot of thought and contemplation detailing a practice of truly sitting, not with only my paintings, but painting as a bigger whole and what it is like to take in a visual experience outside of oneself. I once called the essay a fitting "soundtrack" to my show and I say it again, so thanks again Nick!
Here is Nick LeBlanc's essay for the show:
WEIRDO | Essay by Nick LeBlanc
I see a tree. Then I see a flower hanging from a branch of the tree. Then, I see the sky behind the tree. Streaks of blue squeaking through creaky criss-crossed limbs and yellowed tufts of leaves. Bits of brown and green matter fall into the water below and I lean back, sinking my elbows into the grass, deeply inhaling the floral air of early summertime. I wonder what it is all trying to communicate.
Seconds pass, minutes, maybe years, maybe decades. I roll over to the water and peak down, seeing a swirl of peach, orange, and green staring back up at me. I wonder four things in succession: Is that me? Am I that? Is that a flower? Am I awake?
Colors have life. Colors have depth. There is a universe in each color, an infinite undefined field. Sometimes, decisions are made which give shape to each universe of color. Dark black slashes, twisting and turning lines, shapes, geometric or otherwise. These definitions can exist on top of the color field, behind it, inside of it, parallel to it, and even in some combination of each one of these possibilities.
But who determines the nature of their relationship? Who is the one making the decisions? Is it the one who adds definition to the infinite field of color? Or the one who witnesses it after the fact? Is it possible that they are one in the same? And if someone or something did make those decisions to put that definition in place, might they have had some precognitive relationship with that once-undefined-but-now-defined universe unto itself? Maybe they sensed the definition belonged but hadn’t interacted with the field yet and had lived their life in search of that moment. Maybe the field had grabbed them and pulled them in. Maybe the field had created them.
Maybe, in other words, paintings paint themselves.
We hang paintings on the wall, and we stare at them, sometimes leaning very close, tempting the painting to ripple as we blow on it or to leap from the canvas and drag us into its private little universe by our nose.
In our universe, three dimensions are readily available: width, breadth, and height. Then there is the temporal space in which you experience those dimensions which is accounted for by movement, or more accurately, expansion. The universe expands into itself, pushing nothingness, or the non-universe outward from it. This expansion might be called time. An image, a still image, sits outside of this time field. We may use the dimensions available to us to decode, contextualize, and synthesize the abstract information of an image and turn it into something we recognize as “familiar” or “evocative.” But is that internal relationship with the image the same thing as the image itself? Does our understanding of that image somehow make it real? Would that image exist if we weren’t there to capture it or translate it into some new form of representation?
If it really is me that I see when I peek into that water and watch the rippling swirl of peach, orange, and green, who or what is the thing which defines the “me” which I am wondering about? Am I the one responsible for determining the negative space which lives around that swirl and provides form to the individual infinite universes of each of its colors? Or maybe it’s just a reflection of a flower, the reproductive organ of an angiosperm molded by time and natural selection to manipulate pollinators into doing the dirty business of fertilization for them. And if it is just that, light reflected from a flower bouncing off the water and burying itself in my eyes, how different am I from that thing anyway?
Sometimes with intensity of weather—a heavy rain, an intense drought—flowers can bend and change shape. Sometimes they look like letters. Letters have personality, some are rigid and vertical, some are short and sloping, some double back on themselves or naughtily dip below a sentence line. Our names are made of letters. Words are made of letters. Weird squiggly abstract symbols which carry meaning and personality. Often, the personality of a single letter may not match the inherent meaning of the word, even if it appears multiple times. What does the letter P mean to you? How about a word that begins and ends with it? How about a name that does the same?
Imagine wearing that name as a mask. Does it look like how you feel? Does it represent the same colors that make up your own island universe? And if not, what color do you feel? Hopefully something warm, like the pleasant warmth of a steaming mug of hot coffee filling your belly.
I lean back under the tree, shifting my focus from the sky to the branch, to the flower, and finally I close my eyes. I imagine what I might look like wearing my new mask and how the water might reflect that image back at me. Maybe I’m dreaming. In dreams, everything is about the dreamer, even the dreamt version of some familiar person or place. It is never about the place or the person. It is only about the dreamer’s relationship to the place and person, both in symbol and in praxis. I dream in color, and I often dream of water.
I close my eyes tighter and imagine leaving my spot under the tree and looking over into the water. I see a swirl of peach, orange, and green. I lean into it, tempting it to pull me in, dangling my nose just above the water. I lean too far and fall into the depths. More peach, more orange, more green. They swim around me as I sink. Seconds, minutes, decades, I’m sinking. The colors fade. The form that outlines my body fades. I fade.
Whether dreaming or awake, I—or whatever remains of I—open my eyes. First, it’s dark. Then, there is light. Then there is something in the distance, but it is blurry. I move closer. Something like water is rippling above me, or maybe above us. The rippling stops and we can see clearly, a collection of colors defined by negative space…our own face staring back at us.
7 x 7 inches
paper collage, marker
For images of selected paintings from the show please visit the WEIRDOS tab on this blog here: WEIRDOS 2020-2021