My goal is not to represent specific faces within this series, although I am interested in evoking recognition. The organization of features within each image may call to mind a specific likeness for the viewer. As they dissolve and emerge, these faces are both familiar and strange, comforting and disturbing. How far can the face be abstracted and still read as a face?
The materials and processes I use to produce the images interrupt representation and create tension between mark making and illusion. Instead of pursuing the idea of a portrait as a fixed, singular image the face becomes an ambiguous, shifting field of interaction and interpretation.
During my residency in May I started a series of small drawings using a set of watercolours by Finetec (Germany). The pearlescent colours, containing mica, produce a range of irresistible metallic shades.
I developed an extensive series of dyads—two forms (of different colours) attached by a thin filament, allowing an exchange between the forms.
I continued to work on this series after my return, which lead to a number of related series.
Watercolour on rock paper, 21 x 14 cm
It’s deeply satisfying to follow the path of one’s hand and eye when working with a provocative material. What emerges is both familar and peculiar. One’s default concerns are rediscovered through play.
It was difficult to come back from my retreat and it’s been difficult to find my way back to art making since my return.
To wake up in such a beautiful setting every day and remain in artist mode throughout my sojourn at Coppermoss Cottage and Retreat was luxury indeed. A focus on Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius), an invasive plant whose name alludes to my settler ancestry, engaged me for the majority of my time away (although I was diverted by series of small abstract watercolours, as well).
Retreat Co-Director Sadira Rodrigues helped me collect nearby specimens of broom plants which had very tenacious roots in the rocky soil. I used these to develop a series of monoprints, to which I added coloured pencil or watercolour.
The sounds of the creek outside my windows while I drew, read and wrote was wonderfully restorative. Daily walks in the nearby forests were another highlight of my stay.
I’m heading off to the Sunshine Coast next Friday for a week-long retreat. After a very busy spring teaching and working on a collaborative research project, I’m ready to turn my attention back to my own work and ideas.
Although I’ve produced a number of invasive species drawings recently (like these three) I want to deepen my thinking in relation to this project.
I plan to draw pulled Scotch Broom plants from observation and experiment with a new monoprint/drawing technique I’ve been considering. I’ll bring along a couple of books as well as a few articles I’ve been meaning to read.
The other important decision I’ve made is to go completely offline while I’m away: no Facebook, Instagram, emails and google searches. That last one is going to be especially difficult since I love doing research about whatever I encounter. Spending time in an unfamiliar setting will certainly prompt my desire for research. But! I’ve been so busy and had too many other things to think about in the last few months that limiting the amount of new information coming in will help me focus on my (beautiful) surroundings and the rare opportunity to ponder the work I’ve done in relation to invasive species and how I want to continue this exploration.
In their introduction to this project, organizers Ingrid Koenig and Randy Lee Cutler explained that the German expression for interdisciplinarity, “aus dem Fenster lehnen,” roughly translates as, “leaning out of the window.”
The metaphor of leaning out of windows serves as an inspiration for a project that represents artists’ response to a series of interactions with physicists from TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator centre, in relation to the topic of “antimatter.”
The resulting Leaning Out of Windows (LOoW) exhibition, which includes my work alongside 26 other artists, opened at Emily Carr University last night and runs until Feb 8.
I’ve written about my experience working on this project a number of times, including here and here.
In the end, I decided to produce a wall-drawing for the exhibition, which allowed me one final opportunity to handle the Dirac equation. I used powdered graphite applied with brushes to represent a large, out-of-focus, mirrored image of the equation.
Through the course of my participation in the LOoW project, I drew this equation over and over again. While my work failed to wrest the equation’s particular meaning—the play of materiality and gesture I undertook is not unlike the work of experimental physicists, concerned with the observation of physical phenomena.
People often mistake the concern of art and science with the production of things. While both may lead to the production things, they are first and foremost methods of inquiry—their processes allow us to understand and appreciate the universe and our place within it.