Chasing blindly in moments of my own misguided interpretations, often lost in the dark hole of pressure and control, I have been looking for a crack roughly the size of a honey bee wing in a towering 1,000 foot granite rock to experience the elusive impulse of resonance; a resonance that calms a raging river to a still reflecting pool. It's not something I can hold onto and trying to conjure it up is like prying the granite rock crack open wider with bruised fingers. Though when embodied in creative forces of making art, I am quietly ushered in.
I remember holding lichen that had fallen from a tree for my 1 year old daughter as she inspected the nearby dewey grass for worms. In that time, I held and observed the lichen in my hands; the intense color of greens, spongy texture and musty smells lured me onward. Without thinking, marveled at all of it’s tiny holes, I allowed myself to be present solely focused on this object and was quiet enough to connect to it’s resonance. It reminds me of Joseph Beuys term, ‘substance’. Beuys encourages, rather than engage with just the physical properties of substance, to open to it’s will of existence. As I sit with thought, the material awakens, with an ability to direct, possibly even demand.
I am often exposed to the will of materials as I experiment with them in the studio. Working from my science background in horticulture, I play with materials that I would find in a garden like clay, decomposed plant matter, and herbs and combine them with the preserving qualities of honey, essential oils and egg. The smooth slimy texture of clay runs through my fingers and musty aromas fill the space igniting my senses. Applying rigid minimalistic forms as rectangles and language as repetition, I wonder if the material loves the challenge of its contrasting foe; messy unpredictable substance supporting controlled rigid structures. I often want to scream in moments as the whole piece falls apart but then with a little time and begrudging courage, something beyond what I could imagine forms from the reactions and I am left stunned.
These frenzied conversations happen, sometimes lasting for weeks. Observing, tearing apart, crying, watching it decay, starting again on top of the old, are all responses the work and I have together. In moments we can’t stand to be in the same room (because I tried to muscle my way through the crack again) and other times we heartily laugh as the resonance resounds itself fully alive in the piece. Once I get out of my own way, I acknowledge and agree to the materials request to innately listen and see beyond myself and into my work. Like a moth to a flame we are back at it again the very next day.
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